By Bill Parry
Elected officials in western Queens are once again helping the 29th annual New York Cares coat drive reach its goal of collecting more than 125,000 coats this year.
City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), Assemblyman Brian Barnwell (D-Maspeth) and Assemblywoman Aravella Simots (D-Astoria) gathered more than 100 lightly used winter coats donated by community members for families in need to wear.
“As temperatures continue to decrease throughout this winter, we must keep in mind that many New Yorkers endure the freezing outdoors with no relief,” Constantinudes said. “That’s why we coordinated this coat drive with New York Cares. We thank everyone who contributed to a warm, healthy and generous-spirited holiday season for all New Yorkers.”
New York Cares has more than 300 public collection sites, including every NYPD precinct citywide and both Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal. The organization is still accepting donations to buy more coats.
“The holiday season is a great time to give back and it is always important to remember those who may be less fortunate,” Gianaris said.
Barnwell added that the donated coats could save people’s lives, while Simotas thanked her neighbors.
“Our coat drive was a huge success, thanks to western Queens residents with big hearts and generous souls,” she said. “All these warm coats are the undeniable proof that ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’ still has meaning.”
Constantinides worked further to help struggling families enjoy the holiday season by collecting more than 150 toys at his district office, donated by community members, which were wrapped and distributed to children by Urban Ubound. He also collected donations of toiletries that were given to clients of Reality House, a veterans’ residence and outpatient treatment facility for individuals who have experienced substance abuse.
“As we enjoy the holidays with family, many children grow up without the opportunity to open Christmas or holiday gifts,” he said. “Many New Yorkers do not have access to everyday supplies, including toiletries. I thank all who participated in brightening the holidays for families in our poorest neighborhoods. We appreciate everyone who helped those less fortunate.”
New York Cares warns that 45 percent of New Yorkers are currently near or below the poverty line. The coat drive began Nov. 15 and wraps up Sunday.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr