‘Tis the season for giving, and despite the continued struggles they themselves face after Superstorm Sandy, Southern Brooklyn residents proved their generosity by doling out more than 9,000 toys for last night’s Toys for Tots closeout party at the 41st Assembly District Democrats Club.
Santa’s little helpers paraded around the mountain of dolls, games, books and crafts carrying signs of the toy totals from every year since the drive kicked off in 2001. Without going down even once, the numbers grew from just 79 to a whopping 9,004, unveiled by Mr. Met and Sandy the Seagull, making a 12-year total of 47,680 gifts given to the program.
“There will be 10,000 young people who will get a gift, put a smile on their face, that they wouldn’t have had otherwise. And that is certainly the gift that we have to give on the holidays,” Councilman Lew Fidler told the dense crowd that packed into the small Marine Park clubhouse at 2952 Avenue R.
And for the first time ever, some of the gifts were distributed by U.S. Marines that very night to children who were displaced by Superstorm Sandy. The rest took more than an hour to load onto Marine vehicles to be taken to a depot for distribution. Toys for Tots is overseen by the Marines, and the 41st Assembly District offshoot is organized by Fidler and staffer Bryan Lee.
The clubhouse received visits from toy-toting pols including mayoral candidate Bill Thompson, who posed for photos with Fidler at his side. Councilmembers Mike Nelson, Domenic Recchia, Jumaane Williams, David Greenfield, Letitia James, Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Brooklyn Democratic Party Chairman Frank Seddio and many others we may have missed stopped by to contribute as well.
But while the pols may have contributed a handful, the real heroes of the night were everyday Southern Brooklyn residents, who dug into their own pockets and provided brand new gifts of monetary contributions to the clubhouse, or to one of the numerous feeder drives through Community Board 15, the Be Proud Foundation, or the massive teen toy drive organized by Kings Bay YM-YWHA, Hebrew Educational Society, Brooklyn Amity School and the Turkish Cultural Center.
The total of 9,004 makes it the seventh straight year in a row that this massive Southern Brooklyn toy drive collected more than any other Toys for Tots drive in all of New York City.
Here’s a video of the kids – Santa’s helpers – marching through with the numbers, and a photo gallery below. Note that the numbers were changed after the event, when organizers realized that one of the bulk donations was counted twice.