A Throggs Neck American Legion post is continuing a holiday tradition that brightens the season for needy youth throughout the borough and city.
The Theodore Korony American Legion Post 253’s Joseph Mazzariello Memorial Toy Drive took place again this year, providing toys, as well as crayons and books, to eight organizations that service needy populations.
The drive is named after the late Mazzariello, a Korony Post commander who ran the enterprise spreading holiday cheer for two decades. It has continued on in his honor, and was run this year by co-directors Anthony Ferrara, Judy Lanci, and Colleen McCarthy.
Some of the toys are placed in collection boxes, but about 90 percent are paid for with monetary donations, explained Ferrara.
The toy drive benefits families through homeless shelters, hospitals, church groups, and other organizations that are legitimate non-profit organizations, Lanci added.
“We would like the community to start donating throughout the year; it would help us immensely,” said Lanci. “There are so many homeless shelters that we could be servicing with this drive.”
When the giveaway is over, Lanci said that she expects about 600 new toys and other items to be distributed to children.
Specific requests from organizations are sometimes also fulfilled, added Ferrara, noting for example how they had purchased basketballs for teens as part of a special request.
“For us it is fun,” said Ferrara explaining the reasons that the directors of the drive and a team of volunteers dedicate so much time and effort to it. “We do this because we want to do it. We do a lot with shelters, including battered women’s shelters, because they need a lot of help.”
Ferrara added: “These are for legitimate charitable organizations that give these toys to children who will receive little or nothing else during the holidays.”
The toys include Disney’s ‘Frozen’ animated film and New York Yankee memorabilia, and just fun toys for boys and girls of all age ranges. The toys are purchased based on requests from the organizations.
The lion’s share of the money collected to purchase the toys comes from members of the Korony Post, with significant donations from the Throggs Neck American Legion Post #1456 members, said Lanci. The Throggs Neck Clipper also had a collection box for new toys.
Presenting a $200 check on Monday, December 15 to aid the effort was the Bronx Ancient Order of Hibernians’ Division 3 president Joe McManus. Bronx county president Robert Nolan was on hand for the check presentation.
“As the Bronx county president, I am delighted that the men of division three have stepped up and continued to make a donation to the Korony Post toy drive,” said Nolan, who had made similar donations when he was the division president. “This is really in the spirit of what Hibernians do across the country.”
A local toy store in the Hub area, Youngland on Third Avenue, provided the toys at a deep discount.
Among the beneficiaries of the toy drive’s generosity were the Claremont Neighborhood Center, Albert Einstein Medical Center, Concourse House, and Acacia, an organization that services homeless people.