As Christmas is fast approaching, the annual toy drive is wrapping up at New York Hospital Queens, with much success.
Since 2003, the hospital’s Freedom Medical Aid Team (FreeMAT) has collected toys for the children of Army reservists in cooperation with the 99th (formerly the 77th) Regional Readiness Command, operating units out of the Ernie Pyle Reserve Center in Fort Totten.
With the recent announcement of the additional deployment of 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, “the holidays are an especially difficult time for military families who are apart,” said Cynthia Bacon, director of public affairs for the hospital.
A large group of hospital officials, local civic leaders, elected officials, military officers and enlisted personnel gathered at the hospital, located at Main Street and Booth Memorial Avenue in Flushing on Friday, December 4, to celebrate the continuing success of the yearly drive.
Peter Kwaith, who supervises the FreeMAT unit and has been involved in the toy drive since the outset, announced that the previous year’s record of more than 2,000 toys would be shattered. “They’re still coming in,” he said.
Comptroller-elect John Liu, who supported the drive as a Councilmember, pledged his continuing support. His replacement, Councilmember-elect Peter Koo, reiterated his pledge to devote his entire council salary to community groups “that have trouble getting funding” and that he will continue to support the toy drive, as he had while he was a private citizen.
The outpouring of support was not lost on Brigadier General John E. Cornelius, the Commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade, an Army Reserve unit located in Uniondale, Long Island.
“It’s wonderful to see this great effort in making Christmas a little merrier for the children of our soldiers,” Cornelius said. “I want to thank New York Hospital Queens and all those who helped in this toy drive, on behalf of the men and women of the Army Reserve.”