Elected officials and local organizations came together to preserve an annual holiday tradition.
On Tuesday, December 20, Senator Ruben Diaz, along with the chairman of the NYS Republican Party Edward Cox, Councilman Rafael Salamanca, Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda and The New York Hispanic Clergy Association hosted the fourth annual ‘Toys Giveaway in the Bronx’ at I.S. 217 Rafael Hernandez School.
The toy giveaway, which was held in I.S. 217’s auditorium and is the biggest annual toy drive held in the Bronx, distributed a free toy to the first 1,000 children in attendance, ages 1 through 9. The event was sponsored by Cox and the state Repubicans.
The event began with a prayer, followed by a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, a performance of the National Anthem and a dance performance by the Christian Community Neighborhood Church. After the performance, it was time for Santa Clause to make his appearance and begin delivering free toys to the children.
“We are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ by giving back to the children of this community - who may not always have access to the gifts they want during this time of year,” said Senator Diaz, who has hosted various toy giveaways during the holidays for the past 15 years. “This is a great example of Democrats and Republicans coming together - but this is not about politics, it’s about something far more important - it’s about being there for the community and seeing these children smile when they receive their presents.”
Diaz will be hosting another gift event at noon on Christmas Eve on Southern Boulevard and Aldus Street, which will benefit residents of Santo Domingo, the capital and largest city of the Dominican Republic.
“This event is not just for children and families who celebrate Christmas - this is also for those who celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Three Kings’ Day,” Diaz said. “But overall, this event is to give to others and spread happiness to children and families in the Bronx.”
I could feel the energy and excitement of these children once I entered the ,” said Salamanca, who has assisted Diaz and the NYSRP with the toy giveaway for the last four years as the district manager of Community Board 2. “Senator Diaz and the (NYSRP) have always done a great job putting this event together - and it wouldn’t have happened if all of the participators were not involved.”
“It’s so worth putting on this event - especially when you see the smiles on these children’s faces ,” said Cox, who sponsored the toy giveaway for the fourth consecutive year. “Senator Diaz made this happen - Santa Clause may be here for these children on Christmas, but Diaz is here for these children for the other 364 days of the year.”
It’s great to see so much happiness in one room,” said Assemblyman Victor Picardo, who was also in attendance. “This is a time for giving and being thankful - and the fact that this is all happening in one place is very special.”