A north Bronx elected official brought joy to hundreds of children this Christmas.
The Bronx Youth Empowerment Program and Councilman Andy King hosted their annual community meal and gift giving event, ‘Sharing is Caring’, on Christmas Eve.
King and his wife started the holiday event at their home to foster a sense of community and provide some joy to families with financial challenges.
“Eight years later it has grow to where our living room cannot accommodate it,” said King.
The event, organized by Bronx Youth Empowerment Program at Eastwood Manor, drew about 400 children and their families from a nearby family shelter, NYCHA developments and the community.
The organization is a civic organization for young Bronxites, ages 13 to 21, and is geared around volunteering, giving back to the community and developing self, said volunteer coordinator Brian Melford.
There is a group of 30 to 40 core members who participate in programs such as Generations, where they visit senior centers, and Connections, where the kids interact with police officers from the 45th and 47th precincts.
The goal is to get young people engaged and invested in their communities, and the group has recently adopted one of King’s favorite sayings as a motto— “people pay attention to people who participate.”
Karmin Pressley, 14, is one of those participators. She’s an honor student at Harry S. Truman High School who joined the group two years ago after watching her sister older sister enjoy it for years.
Pressley said this year she felt like contributing something more to the toy give-away, so she took her Christmas allowance and bought two bikes for young girls that were raffled off along with six others.
The teen said she already has everything she needs, and likes to make other people happy.
“I want to see those two kids faces when they get the bikes,” she said.
Pressley has been attending the holiday party since it was held at King’s home, and said she looks forward to it every year.
“I love this event,” said Pressley.
This year’s party included dancing, games, pictures with Santa and Times Square characters. In addition, entertainer Slick Rick presented holiday gifts to members of Bronx YEP.
The holiday spirit is wonderful, said King at the event, but he urged attendees to carry the feelings of goodwill and community forward into the New Year and beyond.
“We all have a commitment to offer love and friendship every day.”