Theodore Korony American Legion Post 253 is getting in the holiday spirit.
The veterans organization in service to others is now embarking on an ambitious annual project, the Joseph Mazzariello Memorial Toy Drive, named after a former Korony Post commander who ran the event for needy Bronx children for many years.
According to Judy Lanci, the Korony Auxiliary president, the post is now soliciting monetary donations for the drive, which is provide about 800 toys and possibly more to pre-screened non-profits. Most are homeless or battered women’s shelters and children’s facilities.
“We distribute 600 to 800 toys a year, but receive requests for 1200 to 1500 each year,” stated Lanci. “We can use help to fill in the gap.”
Korony Post used to place boxes in local businesses in Throggs Neck to collect toys, and Lanci said that this would be most welcome, as would group donations of toys.
However, the best way to help, she said, would be to provide a monetary donation.
Business owners wishing to contribute can send a check made payable to the ‘Theodore Korony Children’s Christmas Toy Drive’ and mail it to P.O. Box 833, Bronx, NY 10465.
The toys will be picked up in Throggs Neck by the non-profit agencies beginning on Wednesday, December 16.
“A monetary donation would be the best because we can buy the right kind of toys for the right age groups,” said Lanci, who added, “It is very hard (to raise money). People see tons of requests for anything and everything.”
Lanci said that the organizations she works with have all been pre-screened and are credible 501c3 non-profit organizations.
The organizations have mechanisms in place to ensure that the children receiving the toys are the most in need, she added.
“We look for children who are in circumstances that if it were not for the drive, they would not be getting a toy,” said Lanci.
A committee of Korony post members serves as drive co-chairs with Lanci: Colleen McCarthy, Anthony Ferrara and Danielle Mazzariello Fava.
The typical toy that they purchase, often at discounted prices, usually range from $5 to $8.
In order to raise the money to buy the toys, the Korony Post sends out letters to its members, including the auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion, she said.
The drive is ramping up its outreach this year because they would really like to take the number of children served to the next level, distributing roughly 1,500 toys each Christmas and holiday season to borough children, said Lanci.
In addition to the toy drive, the post recently completed a turkey and Thanksgiving food giveaway that benefitted 18 needy families, both veteran and non-veteran, from around the Bronx.
According to Lanci, turkeys and all of the trimmings were donated by the organization to families in homeless shelters.