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Skillman Holiday Lights Taken Down, Businesses Decide to Fund Food Pantries Instead

Skillman Avenue Lights before they were taken down (Photo: Sunnyside Chamber)

Dec. 11, 2020 By Michael Dorgan

Now you see them, now you don’t!

Many Sunnyside residents were left scratching their heads after the annual holiday festive lights went up on Skillman Avenue – and seeing them being taken down again a few days later.

The holiday lights, which have been a seasonal feature of the neighborhood for more than a decade, have recently been funded by a collection of local businesses and groups led by the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce.

This year the hard-hit businesses didn’t have the funds available to pay for them and the contractor in charge installed them due to a miscommunication.

“We have used the company for years and they were just working on the assumption that we wanted the lights again this year,” said Manny Gomez, Chair of the SCC. However, he added, the chamber never ordered them.

Gomez said he was notified by residents that they had gone up and immediately called the company to clear up the misunderstanding.

The vendor had other jobs lined up and therefore had to leave the lights up for about a week before eventually taking them down again, Gomez said.

The lights typically cost around $25,000 and last year they ran along Skillman and 43rd Avenues. They are funded in part by small businesses.

The chamber, however, decided last month that now was not the right time to ask hard-hit small businesses to help pay for them.

The chamber, Gomez said, had thought about holding a fundraiser for the lights early last month but thought otherwise. Instead, the organization decided that it would raise funds for local pantries– which it believes is a better use of funds given the pandemic.

The fundraiser is being launched today and will run until January.

Money that would have gone for paying for the lights will now be put into the fund and distributed among four local food pantries.

“Even though people love the Christmas lights, the money will be better spent making sure residents have something to eat,” Gomez said. “After all, that is really the spirit of Christmas, giving something to help others out.”

Gomez said that there is a huge demand for food this year due to the pandemic and people being out of work.

Gomez said the chamber is looking to raise $10,000, which would be split among the pantries. The pantries include the Mosaic Church in Sunnyside, St. Teresa’s Church in Woodside, St. Raphael’s Church in Long Island City and Sunnyside Community Services, which operates a pantry at its senior center and at the Woodside Houses.

Patricia Dorfman, who is an organizer of the food fund, is appealing to local businesses, groups and residents to chip in whatever they can afford.

Dorfman said that the owners of Fresh n’ Save on Skillman Avenue have already committed to giving $3,000 to the fund.

“We understand it’s been a difficult year for everyone so we are just asking for people to give whatever they can,” Dorfman said.

  • Donations can be sent by check to:
  • Sunnyside Chamber,
  • P.O. Box 4129,
  • Sunnyside, NY 11104

The check should be made out to the “Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce” with a notation for Food Fund.

Residents will also be able to donate online starting next week via the Chamber’s website.

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One Comment

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Dan the Man

What about Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, doesn’t he have discrepancy funds available to pay for the lights or he could use the left over money he raised for the queens borough president race that he quit. I am sure that could fund the lights and I am sure he could take a selfie and post it for all to see. I believe that is the solution. I could also see maybe some tv producer covering this story and turn it into a Hallmark Christmas movie.

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