Deck the Halls with donated presents!
A toy drive and holiday celebration at Dyker Beach Golf Course on Thursday, December 18, saw an enormous turnout as students from Bay Ridge’s High School of Telecommunications Arts and Technology along with students from P.S. 94 presented gifts to children from six other schools across Brooklyn and Staten Island as part of The Gift of Giving’s third annual charity event.
Carlo Lenzi, director of operations at Dyker Beach Golf Course and founder of The Gift of Giving—a charity organization that aids less fortunate children or children in group homes — donated the location for the day’s event and spoke about how he started the charity out of his own experience.
“My parents died young, I was in an orphanage and when I grew up, around the holidays, I solicited businesses wherever I went to work and kind of gave them the opportunity,” said Lenzi. “People love to give for a good cause.”
Cynthia Jeffers, PTA president at the High School of Telecommunications and one of the events coordinators, said that the toys would be distributed to families living in local Brooklyn shelters and children who are terminally ill. The number of toys was said to be over 500 and included donations from Casper’s Cuts, The Booth NYC, United Healthcare, Alma Bank, The Sunset Park Alliance and P.S. 10 in Staten Island, as well as other monetary donations. Mr. C’s Cycles donated a bicycle to be raffled off during the event as well.
“All these kids are kids who otherwise are deemed students that have had perhaps parents who are unemployed, parents who are displaced for whatever reason, or may be living in temporary housing,” said Jeffers. “We try to make that effort to ensure that everybody has at least one gift for Christmas. The children that are involved, the older children, they get to learn the gift of giving and how important it is to give to other students and develop those leadership skills early in life so they learn what it is to give back to their community.”
Students from P.S. 10, P.S. 94, P.S. 59, P.S. 297, P.S. 120, P.S. 23, and P.S. 124 were among those that received presents and got their chance to sit on Santa’s lap and take a picture with him.
Councilmember Carlos Menchaca was also in attendance and presented each business or school that participated in donating with a certificate.
“You see students from the school bringing in toys to help other less fortunate students which is something really amazing and kind to see,” said Katrina Vogel, coordinator of student activities at the High School of Telecommunications about the students taking charge and doing everything on their own. “The kids monitor it, they advertise it, they sing Christmas carols, they do everything they can to get people to donate.”
“When you give people the opportunity to give and to do something nice they light up,” added Lenzi. “It’s for a great cause and being someone who was in an orphanage as a young child, it’s so nice when these kids come here knowing that they’re going to get a toy.”