A local holiday toy drive delivered once again for needy borough children this year.
Approximately 800 toys were purchased and donated to non-profit organizations that service needy children as part of the Theodore Korony American Legion Post #253’s Joseph Mazzariello Memorial Toy Drive, said drive co-coordinators.
Charitable organizations including Claremont Neighborhood Centers, Acacia Network, Concourse House Home for Women and Children and several others received donations.
Groups came to Throggs Neck to pick up bags of toys on Tuesday, December 13.
Additionally, Joe McManus, Bronx Ancient Order of Hibernians Division #3 president, dropped by the post’s toy distribution to present a $300 donation from his group to go towards next year’s effort.
Drive co-coordinator Anthony Ferarra said that the charitable enterprise has benefited this year and previously from the generosity of Youngland Stores on Third Avenue.
“Youngland gives us a break on the price of the toys and a substantial amount of toys on the cuff,” said Ferrara.
Ferrara said he was with the drive when its founder, U.S. Marine and Vietnam veteran Mazzariello, would place collection boxes in bank lobbies and raise money from jars put in Throggs Neck businesses.
After Mazzariello’s passing in 2009, a group of coordinators including Ferrara, Judy Lanci and Colleen McCarthy continued the drive in his honor, in part through donations from Korony members and from other borough American Legion posts.
Danielle Mazzariello-Fava, the daughter of the drive’s founder, now also volunteers.
“(The drive) will be going on probably forever,” said Ferrara, adding “You got to figure that a lot of these children are going to get either nothing or something small.”
Abraham Jones, Claremont Neighborhood Centers’ executive director, dropped by to pick up toys on December 13th.
“Each year the American Legion has been wonderful in terms of helping us make this time of year enjoyable for so many needy children,” said Jones,
Claremont is located in one of the poorest Congressional districts in the nation and many families there are struggling financially, he said.
“This is going to be a huge help,” he said. “Our kids look forward for this time of year, and Claremont being able, with the support of the American Legion, to give them gifts and toys.”
McManus said that Hibernians typically help youth in Catholic schools with scholarships and prizes, and he indicated that the toy drive is a natural extension of the work the organization does on behalf of young people.
The organization has a special connection to the drive because a family member of AOH borough leader Bob Nolan is a member of the Korony Post family.
The money donated from the Hibernians is raised through its annual golf outing, he said.
“It is the Bronx helping the Bronx,” said McManus, adding that he remembers growing up poor with six people in his household as a youngster sharing a one-bedroom apartment.
The Hibernians especially help poor and indigent youth and their families, he said.
“For these kids to get something at Christmastime –they really appreciate it,” said McManus.