Nineteen years and counting. Yes, it’s that time of year again for the Queens Chronicle’s annual toy drive for displaced children in the borough.
So while you’re preparing for Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season, don’t forget about these youngsters who might not get any presents if not for your generosity.
You’ve always come through before and we’re sure you will again.
This year, the Chronicle is collecting for two city homeless shelters in Queens and a safe house in Eastern Queens for victims of domestic violence.
The two shelters are the Metro Family Residence in Elmhurst and the Kings Inn in East Elmhurst. They have hundreds of children living there, anywhere from six months to a year.
The other beneficiary is Dove House, an emergency shelter for battered men or women and their children. According to Christelle Padmore, the center’s child care coordinator, there are 22 children at the facility now, ranging in age from 3 months to 12 years.
At this time, all the adults are women, though Dove House helps abused men as well. Residents remain at the facility for four to six months.
The stay is particularly hard on the children, who are confused why they’re there and why they can’t see Daddy. “Most of them have good relationships with their dads,” Padmore said. “It’s a trauma for them and they come in angry.”
Using play therapy and a lot of patience, the staff is usually able to gain the trust of youngsters in about a month.
Padmore noted that holiday time is particularly stressful for the youngsters, who are away from familiar surroundings and relatives. They have been plucked from their neighborhoods and are temporarily attending a different school near the safe house.
Dove House, in existence for 12 years, will hold its annual Christmas party for the children living there on Dec. 22. We hope there will be a lot of presents to distribute.
Youngsters at the two city shelters are waiting with their families for permanent housing. Maria Tolentino, supervisor at the Metro Family Residence, said that the need is even greater now than in past years. “It’s hard for people to get a job and there are no new city housing programs.”
Readers are asked to contribute new toys and other gifts unwrapped so they can go to children of the proper age. Popular gifts include dolls, stuffed animals, action figures, trucks, storybooks, games and puzzles.
And don’t forget the teenagers. Perfume, makeup, jewelry, CDs, T-shirts and other gifts are most welcome.
Items may be dropped off Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Chronicle office at 62-33 Woodhaven Blvd. in Rego Park, about a quarter mile south of the Long Island Expressway, exit 19, on the east side of the street.
After business hours, presents may be left at Barosa restaurant, next door to the Chronicle at 62-29 Woodhaven Blvd., or Barosa Brick Oven Pizza at 62-37.
Please leave your name and where you live with any gifts brought after hours so we may thank you later along with others who came to the office earlier.
In addition, Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) will donate a portion of the toys in his drive to the Chronicle’s. His office is located at 213-33 39 Ave., Suite 238 in Bayside. The deadline for his drive is Dec. 18.
The Chronicle campaign will end Dec. 20, which is a little over four weeks away. Please don’t delay. The sooner your gifts come to us, the sooner they can go to the needy facilities.
If you have any questions, call the Chronicle at (718) 205-8000.
Please don’t let these youngsters down. They need your help more than ever. We thank you in advance for your generosity.
New, unwrapped gifts are being accepted from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays now through Dec. 20 at the Queens Chronicle, 62-33 Woodhaven. Blvd., Rego Park. Call (718) 205-8000 for more information.