It was a time of giving all over the borough and several local organizations and elected officials came through as usual.
Over in Sunset Park, students from P.S. 167, 4305 Seventh Avenue were treated to a visit from Santa Claus. In what has become an annual tradition for the school, Assemblymember Felix Ortiz donned the suit of Saint Nick, beard included, and handed out toys, candy and holiday cheer.
“I was delighted to reprise my role as Santa again this year at P.S 169,” Ortiz said. “All of the children were delighted to receive gifts and candy canes. We are wishing everyone a happy holiday and a happy New Year.”
Last year, Ortiz also rocked the suit and told this paper it continues to be an honor for him. “I’ve been doing it for a long time and I always feel very proud when I see kids coming to me and asking Santa to bring [them] stuff,” he said. “It’s also very touching when kids ask to bring their father back from war or take care of my mom because she’s sick.”
Also during the Christmas season, well over 200 Toys was given to Fort Hamilton Army Base by the Asian Community United Society (ACUS) in an effort to provide service members and their children a jolly holiday season.
“Basically every year, we’ve been doing a toy donation to communities so we’ve been doing this for many years with the help of various sponsors,” said Warren Chan, president of ACUS. “We buy new from vendors and then distribute them to children.”
This year was even more special as Bay Ridge resident Katherine Khatari suggested that ACUS should donate to the Army.
“They protect our country,” Chan added. “It was a very special moment. Everyone deserves happy holidays.”
Sunset Park’s Children of the City, a grassroots organization that focuses on family development and helping them overcome poverty, also put smiles on kids faces. Approximately 400 children and parents gathered at the group’s headquarters in Sunset Park, 740 40th Street, on Saturday, December 17 for a special Christmas event, which included food, games, music, gift giving and a performance by the Muppets.
“Many of the children had been able to fill out a wish list months prior, and others who were invited were also blessed with a wonderful gift,” said the group in a statement. “It was not only gifts, but dozens and dozens of boxes of diapers were distributed to struggling families, to make this holiday week just a little less stressful. Strollers and baby seats have been provided to families that are unable to purchase their own. Local schools partnered with Children of the City to identify the neediest of families, and we were surprised to find out the high number of children in local schools that are living in shelters.”
“Families know that they can come and receive help whenever they are in crisis” added Executive Director Joyce Mattera. “And it is not just the physical supplies, but we provide advocacy, parent workshops, educational support and so much more.”