BY JESSICA MILITELLO
Ovelia Psistari Bar collaborated with small businesses in Astoria on Dec. 12 to collect winter coats for the New York Cares nonprofit organization for its 2019 Ugly Sweater coat drive.
The family-owned Greek restaurant joined with nearby businesses like Sugar and Water, which provided their doughnuts decorated festively for the Christmas season, as well as Chips, which supplied their delicious and decadent cookies to support the event, which collects gently-used warm coats to be distributed to individuals in need throughout the New York City area.
“It’s really a sense of community for this year’s event,” said Chris Giannakas, one of Ovelia’s owners. “It’s really nice and we’re very happy with the results. Last year we filled up the van, hopefully we can double it; that’s the goal this year.”
Over the years, Ovelia has organized several coat drives and toy drives around the holiday season in order to give back to the community. But in the past two years, the owners thought it would be a great idea to collaborate with their fellow small-businesses to further involve the Astoria community and bring in as many coats as possible.
Once individuals and businesses register with New York Cares, they provide marketing materials for events and once coats are collected, they are dropped off to a location in Midtown, Manhattan, in order to be inspected and distributed to New Yorkers in need. Astoria-based bloggers like Astoria Gossip and Give Me Astoria worked with the restaurant to promote the event throughout the neighborhood.
Aside from complimentary doughnuts and cookies, Ovelia also offered complimentary appetizers from the menu, like their feta cubes, lightly breaded shrimp, and zesty taquitos. In addition to tasty snacks, there was a fun holiday themed photo booth, and DJ Ody Roc was at the event spinning upbeat music creating a fun and lively environment for all.
As event-goers started piling in adding to the quickly growing collection of coats it seemed the goodwill cheer was abundant within the Astoria community.
“This is all grassroots and local,” said Giannakas. “Last year I reached out to other businesses and this year I involved some more people and others have reached out to us, and this is all in conjunction with New York Cares so we’re expecting to have double the amount of coats that we got last year.”