Dec. 20, 2023 By Anthony Medina
Inside Elizabeth Blackwell Middle School, located at 93-11 101st Ave., Community Board 9 worked together with the Queens Community House’s Beacon program — a school-based community program providing leadership and skill-building programs for youth — to distribute over 400 toys in a winter wonderland-themed toy giveaway.
Children, from toddlers to age 13, were given a wide array of toy options to choose from. Although limited to one toy each, most kids were quick to make a choice and stick to it.
The allure of the large toy donation boxes did motivate some kids to dig deeper, in hopes of finding another option that differed from the rest, but any choice was better than nothing at all.
Kelly Legg, the Queens Community House Beacon Center Director at M.S. 210 who was partially responsible for bringing CB9 to Ozone Park, said that it was rewarding to serve the kids and the greater community as a whole.
“You know, it’s just great to be able to put a smile on [a] little guy’s face,” Legg said. “It’s super important to be able to give back to the community that we’re serving in any way possible.”
A former English teacher, Legg also said there are certainly ways to incorporate fun into the learning process. Bringing the toy giveaway event to M.S. 210 provided kids with another way to view the school as something more and partake in a school-based event outside of the weekday.
Alexandria Sumpter-Delves, chair of the CB9 Education Committee and a director at the Queens Community House, also played a role in the toy giveaway. As a parent of children who attended the middle school, she said the toy drive was particularly rewarding.
In addition to basketballs, toy trucks and playsets, CB9 offered families free cotton candy and popcorn with the help of local sponsors. Free reusable tote bags were also supplied to families at the event.
Nadya Baharally, a single mother with a young son, praised the community board for its efforts to bring the toy giveaway to Ozone Park. Walking away with a set of slime for her son, she mentioned how these events helped families in need, since not everyone can afford the items on their list this year.
CB9 Chair Sherry Algredo, taking photos of families next to a Frosty the Snowman, gave special recognition to the elected officials who collected toys on the board’s behalf and donated more resources to the winter wonderland.
Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo Jr and Council Members Joann Ariola and Lynn Schulman all contributed to the toy giveaway in the form of collecting toys or providing extra snacks to Ozone Park residents.
Schulman, who visited the giveaway in support of CB9, helped distribute toys to children. As she provided an extra set of hands at the event, she also could not help but share how seeing the look on the kids’ faces brought a sense of community spirit.
“It’s so heartening to be able to give out toys to kids, especially this time of year and with everything that’s going on in the world,” Schulman said. “Plus, people can’t afford toys now because of inflation and everything else.”