Anthony’s Flower Farm, known for their countless toy donations this holiday season, had one more meaningful stop before Christmas Day.
After collecting over 1,000 toy donations, Bobby Jaen and Joe Imperia, along with dozens of community volunteers, successfully donated toys to hundreds of kids throughout the Bronx at the Montefiore Children’s Hospital, Jacobi Children’s Hospital, P.S. 176, VISIONS, and TOTS.
Jaen, a Vietnam War veteran, has also been working with the fourth and fifth grade students at P.S. 108 over the last two years during their Veteran’s Day celebration. Jaen was touched when he received thank you cards from the students earlier this month and with a set of toys put aside for the students, he made sure he showed his appreciation by giving them an early Christmas present on Thursday, December 22.
“To me, this school and its students have such an amazing aura to it and for the work that they put in during their Veteran’s celebration, they are my heroes,” Jaen said. “Somebody asked me during the last month why it meant so much to us to make these donations and my response was, why not? These students deserve these gifts because they have shown that even young kids have a strong heart.”
According to Jaen, he received the cards from the students on a day he felt that really needed a boost while trucks were delivering hundreds of toys to the florist. Although he, Imperia, and the other volunteers still had plenty of work to do in delivering the toys all over the Bronx, Jaen made sure P.S. 108 was his on his list.
Principal Charles Sperrazza said that Jaen had a big impact on the students when he came to speak to them for the first time last year on Veteran’s Day. Jaen provided the students with a pizza party last year and although Sperrazza and fifth grade teacher Deborah Rhem made sure students sent out thank you cards, they were not expecting this special surprise.
“Our students love to take part in our Veteran’s Day celebration and when Bobby came to speak to them about his experience, the kids really enjoyed listening to him,” Sperrazza said. “As a school, we are very proud to help the community and for the community to appreciate what we do means the most. This is a continuing relationship with him and the students and we hope to keep it going over the years.”
Although all of the toys have been donated, Jaen said there is still $400 leftover that he plans to put into good use. According to Jaen, SHARP Electronics has agreed to donate two televisions if Anthony’s Flower Farm purchases one of their TV’s, and Jaen said all three will be donated to three, as yet, undecided locations.
Reach Vito Signorile via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3383.