By Bill Parry
Elected officials in western Queen are helping the 28th annual New York Cares coat drive reach a record-number 125,000 requests from its clients this year.
So far 50,000 coats are in house since the drive began Nov. 15 a New York Cares spokesman explained, and ends on Dec. 31, but they won’t know how successful they have been until the first week in January.
“That’s when all of the elected officials and community groups drop off what they collected,” spokesman Steve Streicher said. “We certainly need more, that is clear,”
This year Constantinides, state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), state Assemblywoman Avavella Simotas (D-Astoria) and Assemblyman-elect Brian Barnwell (D-Woodside) gathered nearly 100 lightly used winter coats donated by community members for families in need.
“While we all know what it’s like to be cold, it’s important to keep in mind that many New Yorkers endure freezing temperatures throughout the day with no relief,” City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) said. “All New Yorkers deserve a warm, healthy, and generous-spirited holiday season. That’s why we coordinated this coat drive with New York Cares.”
Gianaris called the holiday season a great time to give back while Barnwell thanked all who donated.
“Our coat drive was a huge success thanks to western Queens residents with big hearts and generous souls,” Simotas said. “I am never surprised by the goodness in people, but I am always happy to see it. All these coats are the undeniable proof that ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’ still has meaning in today’s troubled world.”
Constantinides worked further to help families in need enjoy holiday gifts. Residents donated toys at his office, which were wrapped and distributed to children by Urban Upbound and Toys for Tots.
“As we enjoy the holidays with family, many children grow up without the opportunity to open Christmas or holiday gifts,” he said. “I thank all who participated in helping brighten the holidays for children in our poorest neighborhoods.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr