Astoria family receives holiday surprise

Astoria family receives holiday surprise
Photo courtesy of GWP Advertising
By Annabelle Blair

Maria Lourdes Hernandez and her soon-to-be family of four received a holiday package, including a Christmas tree and four tickets to the Broadway show “Home for the Holidays,” from House of Holiday in Ozone Park and the show.

On Nov. 29, Hernandez, a single mom from Astoria who is pregnant, visited House of Holiday with her two children to pick up the entirety of the holiday package.

The store, self-acclaimed as the largest Christmas store in New York, also provided the Hernandez family with colored lights, red and gold ornaments and decorations, a tree skirt, a giant Santa figurine, stockings and a star to top the tree. House os Holiday is at 90-20 Atlantic Ave.

The family picked out decorations for the tree and their home off the store shelves, and House of Holiday helped them bring all the gifts home. At the store, Hernandez said—through an English translator because she speaks Spanish—that at first the family wondered if the gifting was really happening.

“We are so thankful,” Hernandez said, “Before this we had no decorations at home, and now we have all this. We have no idea where we’re going to put everything.”

Hernandez is one of 21 mothers who attends the six-week parenting workshop “Hola Bebe,” led by Erika Mantilla Andrade, a program specialist at Catholic Charities in Queens. When House of Holiday reached out to Andrade to recommend recipients of their holiday experience giveaway, Andrade suggested Hernandez.

“I saw her the day she was going to receive the tree—we were in class that morning,” said Andrade. “I spoke to Maria, and she was very excited. She said, ‘I’m thankful for everything’ and for her family to be able to have this experience.”

Andrade’s parenting course, which is free and open to the community, is geared toward pregnant women and women with children under 4 years old. The class provides instruction on prenatal and postpartum care and how to care for a baby, including nutrition and environmental hazards.

“House of Holidays is about providing an experience for the Queens community,” said Larry Guarino owner of the House of Holiday. “This was a great opportunity to give back and see firsthand how this would provide a family years of Christmas traditions and memories.”

“My daughter was very delighted because she was able to pick a Santa ornament she fell in love with, and mom was filled with so much joy to see her so happy,” Hernandez said. “It was a wonderful experience for me and my family.”