The true meaning of Christmas was on display thanks to Reaching-Out Community Service’s (ROCS) ninth annual Operation Christmas Smiles, a series of events held on Saturday, December 20 and Sunday, December 21 aimed at brightening children’s holiday season that come from families that are struggling financially.
Thomas Neve, founder of ROCS, was thrilled with the final result and the community’s support during the party that took place at Saint Mary, Mother of Jesus Church (2326 84th Street). “The party was phenomenal. It was amazing. Our sponsors were there to show support,” said Neve, who likened the atmosphere to a Broadway play rather than a Christmas party. “I was pleasantly shocked.”
The party featured tons of mascots, such as Mickey Mouse, Goofy and other Disney characters. It wouldn’t be a holiday shindig without Kris Kringle himself. Hundreds of toys were distributed to the kids, who were grateful to receive them, much to the delight of Neve and the volunteers. “The day is designed is to help children financially disadvantaged. We don’t want to see child left behind in holiday season,” he said. “The kids were so respectful and really excited. It was just great seeing how appreciative that they were.
Although the events went off without a hitch, Neve and ROCS were nervous leading up to the weekend due to typical fixtures such as Toys for Tots not contributing to the cause as they have in past years. “I was really concerned two weeks before the event. We depend on Toys for Tots and they failed tremendously,” he said. “Thank God for all of the community organizations that helped pull this through. If it weren’t for the sponsors, it wouldn’t have happened. They came and saved the day.”
The following day, ROCS hosted Santa on Wheels, where more toys were delivered by Saint Nick to the Sheapshead Bay Community Center.
“The community did get 78 volunteers. I’m at a loss for words. They were great,” Neve said. “I would call it a five star event. Everyone worked hard to accomplish it. The effort and the amount of hours was just so worth it. I am very satisfied.”