The combined Theodore Korony American Legion Post 253 and Joe Mazzariello Toy Drive will continue on into its third decade, with close to 750 toys distributed to nine organizations in the borough.
This year’s drive was a joint effort by the entire Korony Post family, including the post members, Sons of the American Legion, and the post’s auxiliary. It is co-organized by Korony members Judy Lanci, Colleen McCarthy, and Anthony Ferrara. It is co-named after a past Korony Post commander, the late Joe Mazzariello, who began the drive for local children almost 30 years ago.
The toys were picked up by community organizations from a location used by the post to store the toys on Schurz Avenue on Tuesday, December 13 and Wednesday, December 14, said co-organizer Judy Lanci.
“We have good quality toys, and we keep up with the trends for the kids,” Lanci said. “We check out all of the organizations and make sure that they have a valid 501(c)3. Then I personally visit the organizations to make sure they are doing the right thing.”
The Korony Post makes a $300 donation to the drive in the fall, before soliciting individual members, Lanci said. Letters are also sent out to neighboring American Legion posts requesting donations for the drive, which is kept local, Lanci said.
“This toy drive helps needy kids in the Bronx,” Lanci said. “We are helping kids locally.”
This stands in sharp contrast to organizations that may collect toys in the Bronx but distribute them elsewhere, Lanci said.
The organizations receiving the toys are Concourse House, St. John Chrysostom School, Bible Church of Christ, Albert Einstein Medical Center, Claremont Neighborhood House, Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson’s toy drive, Emergency Rights Inc., Antioguia Church, and a West Farms homeless shelter, Lanci said.
Division Three of the Bronx division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians made a $200 donation to the cause because they knew that it would go to benefit local children, said division president Bob Nolan.
“We decided that the Hibernians did not need to start their own toy drive, because the Korony Post was having a drive that would benefit Bronx kids,” said Nolan, who presented the drive with a check on December 14.
Any donations collected after all of the toys have been purchased for this year will be used to fund next year’s drive, Lanci said. The drive especially seeks to help the families of veterans, and sometimes special care packages are put together for those families, Lanci said.
“Being that we are an American Legion organization, if there are veterans in need we do smaller one-on-one donations for them,” Lanci said.
Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393