Howard Beach woman works to collect toys for children in need

Photo courtesy of Brianna Ferranti

One Howard Beach resident is championing an effort that will make the holidays a little brighter for dozens of local children.

Brianna Ferranti, 24, created and began the “Acts of Kindness” toy drive in November. The Queens native has been overwhelmed by the response, collecting dozens of toys sent from the local, national and even global communities.

“We’ve had deliveries from Ireland, from Texas,” she said. “It’s reaching tons of people. And it’s changing me.”

Participants are asked to purchase a new toy, game, book or other gift for a child between the ages of one and 15. Toys may be delivered directly to Ferranti’s house or arranged to be picked up from a specified place in the neighborhood up until Dec. 18.

After the Dec. 18 deadline, the resident will then take the gifts and hand deliver them to the Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park and St. Mary’s Hospital for Children in Bayside.

Ferranti, a local teacher, said the drive began with a conversation with her mother.

“I said, ‘I want to give back. I want to do something.’ And my mom suggested a drive,” she said. “From there, the word just started getting out.”

Ferranti reached out to friends and family and took to social media, creating an event page on Facebook and sharing the link to local groups like Howard Beach Moms. She also created flyers with information about the drive and posted them in local businesses.

“I’m getting trucks filled with gifts, day and night. I’ve been surprised, for sure,” she said.

Participation from young children has been particularly affecting, Ferranti said. On more than one occasion, children have stopped by with their parents to eagerly drop off donations, moving her to tears.

Ferranti said she’s been motivated most by the desire to counter the negative stories pervading the global conversation in recent months.

“I’m a very naive and innocent-minded person, and the world is very scary these days,” she said. “So I wanted to do something that could show that there are good people, and that people do care about other people.”

Those who wish to participate should contact Ferranti via Facebook or by phone at 718-640-4470.

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