What makes the Queens Chronicle’s annual Holiday Toy Drive an effort worth supporting? Just ask Christelle Padmore, the child care coordinator for Dove House, an emergency shelter for battered women and their children that will be one distributor of this year’s gifts.
“Half of the time their parents fled with just the clothes on their back,” Padmore said. “They have nothing for the children, nothing.
“It’s a difficult life that many of our children experience, especially through the trauma of witnessing domestic violence. They come in very angry, cursing, fighting, crying over every little thing. They don’t trust anyone.”
Staffers at Dove House, which is located in eastern Queens and is one of several institutions that will benefit from this year’s toy drive, work to build trust with the children forced to seek shelter there. One way they do that is by trying to create some sense of normalcy for those whose lives have been turned upside down. Gifts contributed through the Chronicle’s 18th Annual Holiday Toy Drive help a great deal.
“It helps to know, ‘Someone is thinking of me; someone loves me,’” Padmore explained. “Our children are displaced from their families. They’re away, and holidays are one of the most difficult times for them because holidays are about being with families.”
Dove House hosts an annual Christmas party for the children in its care, and this year it will be held Dec. 21. That’s when they will be given their presents.
There were two dozen children at the shelter as of last Friday, but the number changes often, as new families arrive and others find alternative housing. Of the youths there now, many are infants, four are teenagers and the rest are scattered in between.
As always, the Chronicle asks that contributors to our toy drive not forget the oldest and youngest children when selecting gifts. Action figures, dolls and games for elementary and middle school-age are welcome, but so are big shiny things to help infants work on their grip and the hip T-shirts, jewelry, skateboards and other gifts teens like.
Really anything you can contribute in these difficult times is appreciated.
In addition to Dove House, this year’s gifts will be going to the Metro Family Residence for the homeless in Elmhurst, the Glendale-Maspeth United Methodist Church and one or more reliable organizations, yet to be determined, that can get them to victims of Hurricane Sandy in South Queens and the Rockaways.
“No children should be forgotten at Christmastime, and it’s very important for kids to get something, because some kids get nothing otherwise,” said Marcie Galatioto, a member of the church’s Missions Committee, who is coordinating its distribution of toys. Galatioto worked on the Chronicle toy drive for years when she was with the city Department of Homeless Services and continues to in her retirement. “Getting something makes them feel as if somebody cares about them, that they’re part of the community.”
As always, we ask our readers to contribute toys and other gifts that are new and unwrapped so they can go to children of the right age. They may be brought to our office from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. We’re at 62-33 Woodhaven Blvd. in Rego Park, about a quarter mile south of Long Island Expressway Exit 19, on the east side of the street, one door from the corner of 62nd Road.
After business hours, gifts may be dropped off next door at Barosa restaurant, at 62-29 Woodhaven Blvd., or Barosa Brick Oven Pizza, at 62-37. Please leave your name and the name of your community with any gifts brought after hours so we may thank you later along with the donors who come to our office directly.
We’ll be taking gifts until Dec. 20 so our partner organizations have enough time to give them to the children by Christmas. If you have any questions, please call us at (718) 205-8000. We thank you in advance for your support, as these are trying times for so many in Queens, and your help will bring a lot of joy to a lot of children who need it.