It was a very Merry Christmas to all for members of the Guild for Exceptional Children (GEC)
Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis was joined by State Senator Marty Golden and GEC director Paul Cassone for her annual Holiday Toy Drive at the Guild.
Malliotakis, with the help of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church, Salam Arabic Lutheran Church, and the local community, delivered gifts to hundreds of children in special education pre-school and universal pre-kindergarten on Thursday, December 22 at one of the GEC centers, 1273 57th Street.
The assemblymember was pleased to keep the tradition growing.“ This is one of my favorite events of the year. Every year, the wonderful people from Holy Cross Church, Salam Arabic Lutheran Church and the Bay Ridge community donate toys and are very generous, which allows us to come here and share with the children. It’s a great thing to see the children so happy.”
Cassone was grateful to see the kids smile after receiving gifts such as toy trucks, blocks, dolls and action figures. “A lot of my job relates to trying to figure out how we can make our funding work so when I actually get to sit and work with the children and sing with them and see their smiling faces, it makes me feel really great,” he said, adding that seeing older Guild clients help out makes the experience even more rewarding. “The elves who assisted us are older people from our programs so I like to see that intergenerational stuff. They recognize that they’re able to help the younger people so all in all it feels really good to see them having a good time.”
“When you see the smiles on these kids’ faces and the joy they get out of it, the way it’s put together and the singing, it gets everyone into the Christmas spirit and that’s what we want to do,” added Golden.
Before the elected officials and Cassone distributed the toys, kids from the program sang classic holiday songs. “The chorus of the Guild is so talented and just to spend a nice day with them, it really makes them happy and it makes me happy as well,” said Malliotakis.
“Today, we realize that even if we have challenges, we are all much more alike than we are different,” added Cassone. “We have all of these different children in this preschool and this is part of the beauty of the mosaic that is Brooklyn.”