By Steve Mosco
Shining chrome and roaring engines signaled the beginning of the holiday season for some excited children in Bayside.
The East Coast Car Association rolled its collection of classic cars into the front of St. Mary’s Health Care System for Children Nov. 18, delivering goodwill, a day outside and gifts galore to the hospital’s throngs of youngsters.
“This kicks off the holiday season for us,” said Angela Sculti, director of community relations for the hospital, at 29-01 216th St. “It is so wonderful to see such active generosity by the community and to see that in the kids’ excitement is especially wonderful.”
In its 14th annual visit to the children’s hospital, the Glendale-based ECCA also donated $9,000 toward the hospital’s new music room, a musical healing environment in St. Mary’s new Patient Pavilion, which opened in early October.
“All of the programs and the building itself are designed to help the healing process,” said Leslie Johnson, director of communications at St. Mary’s. “Music and musical therapy is vital to the healing process. It helps children express themselves and cope with their condition. And it’s fun.”
The children had most of the fun during ECCA’s toy delivery as they checked out the classic cars. Mike Bilski, of the ECCA and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 7336, said all the children were outside waiting as the cars moved toward the building to the sweet sound of Corvette engines and old-time police car sirens.
“The kids walk around the cars, some of them go inside the cars — they just love it,” said Bilski. “We usually bring some antique cop cars and the kids love playing with the sirens.”
Hurricane Sandy prevented any modern day police cars from escorting the automobile procession onto the hospital grounds, as the NYPD could not spare the manpower this year. And there were also fewer cars involved than in previous years as many were lost or wrecked when the superstorm blew through, according to Bilski.
“We did what we had to do,” said Bilski, adding that the ECCA is not really a car club but rather a nonprofit. “It was important to us to get down there and give these kids a treat.”
But the holiday treats were not only reserved for the children receiving gifts, as St. Mary’s staff observed the joy in the eyes of the many gift-givers.
“All children respond the same way to the affection and attention that comes with a gift,” said Sculti. “But the really special takeaway is for the group giving the gifts. They know what they’re doing has a real significance.”
Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.