BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
The holiday season is a time of appreciation, a time of giving and a time of happiness. Local elected officials, non-profit organizations, schools and community residents have been organizing holiday drives, where people can donate items for children and families in need during this time of year.
Last Friday, Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria), which are all of Astoria’s elected officials, in addition to Assemblyman-elect Brian Barnwell, gathered together with approximately 100 winter coats that had been donated by the community for families in need during this already cold winter season.
“While we all know what it’s like to be cold, it’s important to keep in mind that many New Yorkers endure freezing temperatures throughout the day with no relief,” said Constantinides. “All New Yorkers deserve a warm, healthy and generous-spirited holiday season. That’s why we coordinated this coat drive with New York Cares.”
Over the last couple of weeks, the elected officials’ offices were collecting coats as part of their holiday season coat drive. The coats were then donated to New York Cares, a volunteer organization that serves approximately 63,000 New Yorkers each year and partners with 1,350 nonprofits and schools across the five boroughs.
“Our coat drive was a huge success thanks to Western Queens residents with big hearts and generous souls,” said Simotas. “I am never surprised by the goodness in people, but I am always happy to see it. All these warm coats are the undeniable proof that ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’ still has meaning in today’s troubled world.”
Barnwell, who doesn’t officially become the District 30 Assemblyman until January, has recently been seen in the public-eye alongside Western Queens elected officials. At 10 a.m. on Friday he joined state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) for a press conference to unveil a new legislation and later on, he joined Constantinides, Simotas and Gianaris to gather the donated coats.
“I want to thank all of those who donated to our coat drive,” said Barnwell. “No New Yorker should lack the opportunity to stay warm and healthy over the winter. Because of your help we collected coats that will help those who truly need them.”
Not only was Constantinides’ office open to coat donations, but community members also donated wrapped toys, which were distributed to children by Urban Upbound and Toys for Tots.
“As we enjoy the holidays with family, many children grow up without the opportunity to open Christmas or holiday gifts,” said Constantinides. “I thank all who participated in helping brighten the holidays for children in our poorest neighborhoods. We appreciate all the donations.”
Whether it be canned foods, clothes, toys or books, those receiving these donations do not just appreciate the gifts, but they also appreciate the gesture. Be sure to take some time out during the Holiday madness to give back to your community.
“The holiday season is a great time to give back and it is always important to remember those who may be less fortunate,” said Gianaris. “Thank you to everyone who participated in our coat drive.”
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144 or firstname.lastname@example.org