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Gennaro urges folks to give to children

Help needy children this winter by giving them one thing they love, one thing they need and one thing they might not want to wear.

City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) kicked off his third-annual toy, food and coat drive Monday for eastern Queens residents who want to contribute to kids having a happy holiday.

“People want to help for the holidays,” he said outside his district office at 185-10 Union Tnpk. in Fresh Meadows. “And we want them to know that they can bring these items to our office and we will put them to good use.”

Gennaro’s office partnered with two other agencies that will help distribute the collected items to needy children both locally and across the five boroughs. Through the U.S. Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots program, gifts are distributed to charities in the same area where the donations took place — for example, Samuel Field Y in Little Neck — so residents know they are helping their community.

“We try to distribute the toys to children in the area,” said Cpl. Matthew Murphy. “Every kid needs a Christmas, and we’re just trying to make that happen.”

The donated toys are also collected and sorted by the soldiers so they can try to match gifts with requests from parents. Last year they distributed about 300,000 presents. This year marines from the program will stop collecting donations by Dec. 15 so the items can be ready by Christmas.

Generous residents can donate coats for two days longer, until Dec. 17, before the clothing is collected by New York Cares, another nonprofit that has worked with Gennaro for the last three years.

“We are absolutely thrilled he is collecting coats for us again,” said spokeswoman Suzanne Farrell. “Through this drive, many struggling families will receive coats they would otherwise have to go without this winter.”

New York Cares also collects from police precincts and other locations all around New York City. Last year it received 70,000 coats.

Gennaro’s office will also be collecting non-perishable food items until Dec. 31. They will be distributed to St. Nicholas of Tolentine Roman Catholic Church, at 150-75 Goethals Ave. in Jamaica, and the Samuel Field Y at 58-20 Little Neck Pkwy.

The office will accept donations Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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