This toy drive is oodles of fun too

The holidays will be a little brighter this year in Howard Beach.
For the first time ever, JM for Kids will be hosting a toy drive and fund raiser at Kids ‘n Shape on Monday, November 29.
In association with Hooper’s Helpers, they will be collecting toys to donate to St. John’s Bread and Life, Toys for Tots, Momma’s House and Schreiner’s Hospital.
But more than just a good cause, the day’s events, from 5 to 8 p.m. will provide tons of fun for families – for free.
“I figured we might as well have it at a place where kids can enjoy themselves,” said Justin Martinez, organizer.
Kids can play on the bounce house, try their skills on the 40-foot obstacle course, ride the zip line, or have a ball in the ball pit.
There will even be face painting, raffles, a clown, and, of course, Santa.
And, in keeping with the holiday spirit, families can spend time together.
The impetus for the event, said Martinez, who grew up in Ozone Park and counts his uncle as his biggest influence, was a friend involved with Hooper’s. She had called him and said that they desperately needed help, he said.
So Martinez, an event planner by trade, went to local businesses – from Russo’s on the Bay, who donated a popcorn and cotton candy machine, to Vetro and Carosello Restaurants, who will be giving gift certificates – and the event began to take shape.
“I love putting things together,” he said.
Add in Paul Guarneri and his dad Robert, co-owners of Kids ‘n Shape, and the event really came together.
“Kids ‘n Shape has been awesome,” said Martinez.
“We thought it was a good thing to do,” said Paul. “I’m sure there are a lot of kids not getting toys this year.”
The event is on Monday, November 29 from 5 to 8 p.m. Kids ‘N Shape is located at 162-26 Cross Bay Boulevard, Howard Beach. To learn more, visit www.productions-jm.com or www.kidsnshape.com.