A couple hundred people flooded into the Kids ’N Shape in Howard Beach Monday evening for the second annual drive to collect gifts for Toys and Tots.
The three-hour event — which included an appearance by Santa Claus, face painting, and games that spanned the gamut from a ball pit to hula hoops and air hockey — is the brainchild of Howard Beach native Justin Martinez.
“It’s something I’ve always dreamed of, helping kids,” said Martinez, who founded a nonprofit, JM for Kids, last year. “You want to look out for kids who don’t have anything.”
Martinez teamed up with Paul Guarneri, owner of Kids ’N Shape, to host the event, during which hundreds of presents were collected.
“Especially during the recession, it’s nice to give people a free treat,” Guarneri said.
by Anna Gustafson

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