Holiday toy drive queen, overcame demons to help others

Following a 20-year tradition, Lynne Corry and her army of ‘elves’ are upping the ante this holiday season by handling and distributing toys to over 1,600 kids in NYC.

However, as impressive as today’s effort is the holiday grand toy donation and drive was born from one remarkable woman’s holiday season dispair.

Over two decades ago, first-time mother, Lynne Corry, sat inside the Samaritan Daytop drug treatment facility while her newborn son was miles away from her in a hospital.

The scene was bleak and Corry looked around the room at the other women in facing similar situations.

“I remember sitting there, thinking ‘how can I make this place and these people more cheery right now?’” said Corry.

That’s when the idea of delivering toys to the children and families facing the same trials and tribulations as her and other mothers at Samaritan Daytop came to be.

Corry’s background in sales kicked in and she instantly got on the phone to find toy donors.

That holiday season was the start of a new sobering lifestyle for Corry when she vowed to create a better life for herself and her son, Tyler.

Since that year, Corry has worked with countless individuals and organizations to make the holidays special for those caught in the spiral of drug use like she once was, those many years ago.

Corry found herself extremely lucky to have the opportunity to raise her son and stay drug-free for over 20 years now.

Corry said she lives a mostly normal life now in a two-family house in the Bronx near the park that she slept homeless nights in as young drug addict.

She joked, “I used to sleep in the park, now I work for the Parks Department.”

Corry’s son is now in college and still very much a part of the toy drive as he was when he was the inspiration behind his mother’s recovery.

Tyler is now 22 and attends Mercy College and studies exercise science and works as an assistant for a physical therapist.

Tyler said his first memory of being a part of the toy drive was as a middle schooler and being just as excited about collecting the gifts as those receiving them.

Through the years, Tyler’s friends have joined in the holiday giving and he found a new appreciation for the cause.

“Around senior year of high school, I realized it was really making an impact,” Tyler said. “My old lacrosse team does it every year now, it’s not just me and my friends, it has spread so much.”

The holiday drive has proved to be more than a family affair and those at Samaritan Daytop have been touched by Corry’s and Tyler’s actions as well.

Harry Scott, assistant vice president of residential treatment at Samaritan Daytop said he’s known Corry for four years now.

“Lynne came in the program many years ago and has continued to return every year,” Scott said. “She comes with her son and his friends and bestows greetings, hope and gifts for the women and children here.”

Scott emphasized how much Corry appreciates the efforts of these women and how hard it is for these women to get through the holidays, let alone move on with their lives.

“What really makes it powerful is to have these women with infants in their laps and they see this woman who sat in the very same seat, but there she stands with her son all grown up,” Scott said. “It really brings a message of hope and provides an example of what they can achieve.”

Corry said this wouldn’t be possible without her sponsors and contributors.

Major contributors throughout the years have been Cardinal Spellman High School, Five J’s Automotive, Cummins and Owens Bros. Tree Service.

“All those folks have roots in the Bronx,” Corry said. “It’s all Bronx love.”

To make donations, Corry has a registry with Target that can be found by searching Lynne’s Holiday Toy Drive.

“We’re really bringing it this year, and we’re bringing it with joy,” Corry said.

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