BY RYAN QUINN
On Nov. 12, the East Coast Car Association gave St. Mary’s Children’s hospital in Bayside an early Christmas present, continuing its annual Toys for Tots event begun in 1999.
Starting in Forest Park, 120 to 130 classic cars followed a police escort to St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital to deliver toys and a $15,000 check.
Harold Mecabe, who has been involved with the event since its second year, said that Toys for Tots founder Ed Walter created the club after St. Mary’s saved his children when other hospitals could not.
“He made a commitment that he would do anything he could to…pay homage to St. Mary’s,” said Mecabe.
Walter died in 2007, but Toys for Tots continued. Mecabe and the East Coast Car Association decided to continue Walter’s legacy.
The East Coast Car Association raises money for the hospital throughout the year during its weekly car shows, which take place on Tuesday nights from April through November. Word has spread to other car clubs, including Rockaway Car Club and Queens Classic Car Club—prompting them to join as well.
The event consisted of a check ceremony, while the children congregated in the parking lot to see the cars and police motorcycles. Afterward, they met the East Coast Car Association to pick out their toys and take pictures with Santa Claus.
Julie Harris, a physical therapist at St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital, credited the event as a “good way for [the kids] to communicate with people in the community who they might not otherwise get to meet.” Harris also said that the wide variety of toys recognizes the children as individuals with different interests, and ensures that everyone could leave with something.
The East Coast Car Association sponsored hospital room 3202 and dedicated it to the memory of Ed Walter. The East Coast Car Association plans to bring another shipment of toys to the hospital on another day closer to Christmas.