The Theodore Korony Post is continuing a holiday tradition that started three decades ago.
The late Joseph Mazzeriello, a Vietnam veteran who served in the Marines, is having his compatriots at the Korony Post and his daughter continue a toy drive that grew into one of the largest grassroots Bronx-only toy drives in the borough.
Toy drive coordinator Judy Lanci has been asking for donations of toys or money from Korony Post members and their network of friends and family, as well from outside organizations to purchase toys.
The toys go only to Bronx organizations that she and her committee personally vet to make sure they are deserving of donations.
Over the course of about two to three hours on Tuesday, Dec. 17, representatives from about a dozen Bronx organizations serving the needy stopped by a building affectionately known to locals as the “Little Red Schoolhouse” in Throggs Neck to pick up the toys that will be distributed to homeless youth, children of veterans and children of battered women and young people in need.
“Basically, Joe’s belief was no child, especially here in the Bronx, should go without a new toy for Christmas,” said Lanci. “We started out originally being a Toys for Tots Program, because Joe was a Marine.”
But one year, when local organizations came to Mazzeriello seeking toys during the holiday time, and Toys for Tots could not direct the toys his drive had collected to needy Bronxites, the idea came about of focusing the drive only on getting toys directly to Bronx organizations that service needy children, said Lanci.
This year Lanci distributed about 1,200 toys through different organizations. She is helped by her committee including Anthony Ferrara, and Colleen McCarthy, Judy Lanci, and Joe’s daughter Danielle Mazzariello-Fava. Also helping is longtime booster Dolores Stoltze, and Lanci’s husband John Lanci.
One of the drives’ pet projects is Aguila’s Bronx Neighborhood Cluster shelter on Morris Park Avenue in West Farms, said Lanci, and that organization will receive about 180 toys this year.
Also supporting the drive are the Bronx American Legion, The Bronx County GOP which donated about 300 toys, and The Bronx Ancient Order of Hibernians which made a $200 donation again this year.
Youngland at 2922 3rd Avenue helps with the pricing on many of the toys, and has helped by donating toys and books.
“We are helping the really underprivileged and that is what we are most proud of,” said Lanci.
“The American Legion is at the forefront, but really it is a lot of people helping,” she said, adding “I think we do really well and take care of a lot of people for the size of a post that we are.”
Also donating were First Lutheran Church of Throggs Neck and Throggs Neck Clipper.