BAY RIDGE — Christmas came two days early for the children of the service men and women at Fort Hamilton Army Base in Bay Ridge. The Rotary Club of Verrazano, the Salaam Club of New York and the Bay Ridge Community Council all joined forces to bring an extra bit of holiday cheer in the form of gift cards and toys along with a wide array of holiday treats for the troops.
Over 100 military children and their families attended the Fort Hamilton Children’s Holiday celebration on Monday, Dec. 23.
“The Fort Hamilton chapel is really, really glad to be part of this giveaway today, due to the wonderful donations of the people in our community. It’s really going to help our Fort Hamilton families,” Chaplain Major Bruce Duty told this paper.
The joint goodwill venture between the three civic groups provided $25 gift cards totaling over $4,000. The project was spearheaded by community leader Ralph Succar, who is a board member of all three organizations, and currently serves as BRCC president.
In addition, doughnuts were supplied by Mike’s Donut Shop and boxes of cookies were donated by John Nikolopoulos and the Bay Ridge Bakery.
The Rotary Club of Verrazano is one of more than 30,000 Rotary Clubs in 160 countries worldwide. They work to help feed the hungry, procure open-heart surgeries for children overseas and support a variety of local projects. Representatives from the Rotary at the event included Succar, Michael Iacobucci, Aldo Adamo and James Giustiniani.
“It’s a pleasure to be here to try to help. And it’s our way to say thanks to our Army family,” said Iacobucci.
Giustiniani concurred with Iacobucci. “This is a way we can give back to the people who give to us,” Giustiniani told this paper. “The fort always gives so much,” he added.
The Salaam Club was founded 74 years ago by Lebanese and Syrian immigrants in Bay Ridge as a fraternity of men of Middle Eastern descent.
In 1994, the Salaam Club Community Fund was established to benefit local organizations such as the Guild for Exceptional Children and the St. Nicholas Home, an interdenominational residence for elderly individuals in Bay Ridge. The group also helps raise funds for national charities including St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Representing the Salaam Club along with Succar was the club’s President Hani Barghash.
“I’m so proud of the Salaam Club and the community. To see the smiles on the faces of those little kids is really amazing. I think we’re doing a great job and I hope to keep doing this for as long as we can,” Barghash told this paper.
The BRCC, an umbrella organization made up of more than 74 grassroots groups, was established in 1951 to promote the quality of life in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Fort Hamilton in Southwest Brooklyn.
Representing the BRCC were Barbara Vellucci, Linda Orlando, Ted General and Joanna Succar.
“It’s the time of cheer during the year when we give out the gifts which are a token of our appreciation from the neighborhood to our armed forces and their children,” Ralph Succar told this paper.