Students from St. Mark School served as Santa's little helpers at the event, piling the donated toys and greeting guests.

Students from St. Mark School served as Santa’s little helpers at the event, piling the donated toys and greeting guests.

The Bay Improvement Group’s  23rd annual concert and toy drive on Sunday saw hundreds of toys piled on stage as Vince Martell of Vanilla Fudge jammed for the crowd.

The 225 toys collected will go to a shelter for battered women and their children located in the heart of Sheepshead Bay. It’s a toy drive in our community that ensures toys stay with the needy of our community, said BIG Executive Director Steve Barrison.

“We have a battered women’s shelter down the block and they were not getting anything [from other drives]. And that’s really the heart of it,” Barrison told Sheepshead Bites at the event, which took place in the Baron DeKalb Knights of Columbus (3000 Emmons Avenue). “We’ve got to fill the need right here in our own community, and we know where the toys go.”

The event started 23 years ago, when Barrison and Martell, who previously met at a diner, decided to spend the holiday season driving around in a limo, popping out at random places and singing to pedestrians for donations for children’s toys. Since then, the event has moved around the neighborhood, including the old Lundy’s restaurant, various local businesses, several years at St. Mark School and now, for the first time, at the Knights.

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