The Theodore Korony American Legion Post is once again spreading holiday cheer to needy Bronx children with its annual toy drive, still going strong after three decades.
Korony continued an annual holiday tradition begun almost 30 years ago by Vietnam veteran Joseph Mazzariello.
It began as a drive that collected holiday toys in bins in stores along East Tremont Avenue and other facilities, such as American Legion posts.
It has continued on with the work of Judy Lanci, Anthony Ferrara, and Colleen McCarthy, along with volunteers from the post and its sons and auxiliary brigades.
Hundreds of toys were collected from a location on Schurz Avenue by about ten Bronx-based non-profit charity organizations. The distribution took place on Tuesday, Dec. 18 and Wednesday, Dec. 19, said Lanci.
“I see that there are collection boxes not only for Toys for Tots, but also for victims of Hurricane Sandy,” said Lanci. “We keep everything local to the Bronx. We have learned through the years that although Toys for Tots is a great program, [the toys] don’t come back to the Bronx. It is very rewarding because we know the organizations that the toys are going to.”
Among the places that receive the toys are homeless shelters, including one in West Farms that is close to Van Nest, and battered women’s shelters that are part of the local community.
The program is designed to help people in the post’s own local area, said Lanci.
The retired banker checks every group’s 501(c)3 tax status and their mission statements to make sure that the toys go to organizations who will give them to truly needy families.
“We make sure that we are taking care of children who really would have nothing under the tree,” said Lanci.
The need from the Bronx organizations receiving the toys, which includes hospitals and community-based organizations, has been increasing over the past three or so years, said Ferrara.
“We used to get letters asking for 25 toys,” he said. “Now, we get letters asking for 40 or 50.”
The first day that the organizations came to pick up toys, on Dec. 18th, Bob Nolan from the Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 3 dropped off a $200 donation
Lanci said that they were very pleased with Youngland on 2922 3rd Ave. for giving them a deep discount on the toys, due to the generosity of owner Mario DeGiorgio.
The drive is now accepting monetary donations for next year. They can be mailed to Theodore Korony Children’s Christmas Toy Drive, P.O. Box 833, Bronx, N.Y. 10465. Checks should be made payable to Theodore Korony Children’s Christmas Toy Drive.
Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3393