With newly-hung “retro” holiday lights festooned outside across Third Avenue, the merchants group that oversees the strip got together at a local eatery to celebrate the season and collect toys for children in need.
On Monday, December 11, members of the Merchants of Third Avenue (MTA) gathered with local activists and elected officials to mark the holiday at Lobo Loco, 8530 Third Avenue, feasting on Tex-Mex specialties as the piles of gifts destined for children aided by HeartShare-St. Vincent Services grew on two tables inside the restaurant.
“We are lucky to be in a community like Bay Ridge,” noted MTA’s longtime President Bob Howe, “with great merchants, great elected officials, and great community people” who “understand that a strong Third Avenue is a strong Bay Ridge, and a strong Bay Ridge is a strong Third Avenue.”
The holiday lights along the thoroughfare — whose absence had been repeatedly noted by area residents — were delayed this year because the vendor who had provided them raised his price significantly, explained Howe, slowing down their installation as the group searched for another vendor to provide them, but by the day of the holiday party, they were up and glowing.
The toys collected will go to children in NYCHA housing in Coney Island, said Dawn Saffayeh, executive director of HeartShare-St. Vincent’s. Rather than HeartShare-St. Vincent’s distributing them, they will be given to parents to give their children on Christmas, something, she stressed, that “means more than you can know.”
“The gifts given to us mean so much not only to us but to the people we serve,” added Ken Nolan, chair of the board for HeartShare-St. Vincent’s.