Throggs Neck charity becomes a nonprofit organization

Svetlana Radakovic, vice president and branch manager at the Pelham Bay Branch of Alma Bank, Kimon Skarlatos, vice president of new product development and Lynne, Joe and Tyler Corry
Photos by Jason Cohen

For more than two decade, Lynne Corry and her team at Giving Friends have held a holiday toy drive for thousands of kids. In January of this year, the organization officially became a nonprofit.

Corry, who has been doing this for 23 years, felt that having nonprofit status would benefit the organization and attract more positive attention.

“I think people want to support us because we are a legit charity case,” Corry said.

The ongoing pandemic has not slowed down Corry, her husband Joe and her son Tyler Smith, who have been working hard to make sure people have toys for Christmas. Last year, Giving Friends collected and delivered 2,000 toys to local children.

Since becoming a nonprofit, the organization has received a $10,000 donation from a foundation, which has helped with operational costs, such as rent and renovation of its site in Throggs Neck and paying for social media consultants.

Corry expressed gratitude to Alma Bank, the only financial institution that was opening new business and nonprofit accounts locally during COVID-19 and worked closely with her to open the Giving Friends account. Alma sponsored the toy drive and put donation and collection bins in 13 of its branches citywide. The bank also promoted the toy drive on social media and throughout their organization.

“We are confident they will fill the bins and make a substantial donation of toys from their customers and residents in the communities they serve,” Corry said. “Svetlana the vice president and branch manager has been instrumental in the beginning stages of this partnership as a solid community team player!”

The gifts have been pouring in since October and include Elmo, Woody and Buzz toys, women’s clothes and swimmies for the pool. Before Christmas, volunteers help make gift bags for children, which will be delivered on Dec. 21.

Companies such as Ralph Lauren, Old Navy, Club Monaco and Gap have all donated clothes. Others that have contributed include the Silver Beach Book Club and Cardinal Spellman High School.

“If someone wants to donate, I say yes,” Corry said.

Typically, Tyler and his friends dress up as elves and hand out the gifts. But due to the pandemic this year, it will be more of a curbside pickup event.

“It’s challenging to be a nonprofit during COVID-19,” she said.