Hundreds of local kids’ holiday seasons were made merrier through the dedication of one Howard Beach woman.
Brianna Ferranti, 24, created the “Acts of Kindness” toy drive in November and wrapped up her efforts on Dec. 18. The Queens native was overwhelmed by the response: after getting the word out to local businesses and on social media, over 300 toys were sent her way for kids of all ages.
Ferranti got to work, packing the gifts into 16 large plastic bags to be brought to two separate locations.
On Dec. 20, Ferranti and a friend headed to the Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park to drop off the gifts, which hospital staff later distributed to the kids.
In the days following, Ferranti received a thank-you note from the center, expressing how much the patients at the hospital valued the presents. The toys will also be used as part of the hospital’s Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Program, which helps decrease fear thorough uplifting play experiences, the letter said.
“It meant so much to me. You realize there are people going through this struggle every day,” Ferranti said. “It kind of makes you realize it’s not about the materialistic things and you realize what the holidays are all about: putting a smile on these kids’ faces.”
On Dec. 22, Ferranti dropped off the rest of the presents to St. Mary’s Hospital for Children in Bayside, accompanied by a friend and fellow Howard Beach resident who had a younger sister who unfortunately passed away from a childhood disease.
At the hospital, the pair were able to get a tour of the whole facility and later spent time with 20 of the children there. The group talked about the holiday season and exchanged hugs, Ferranti said. One of the children there even asked her to get up and dance with her at the cheerful celebration.
For Ferranti, the holiday drive is only the beginning of her outreach efforts. The Howard Beach resident has begun planning an event to take place during the Easter season, which will serve to benefit more local families in need. She is also in the process of getting in touch with local homeless shelters to see how she can organize future efforts to help out the displaced families there in any way.
“I can’t stress the fact enough that the experience has changed me,” she said. “It’s only gonna get bigger and better from here. I’m gonna change more lives.”
Follow Ferranti’s efforts on Facebook. An official “Acts of Kindness” Facebook page and Instagram are forthcoming.