Get in the true spirit of the holidays
by Ed Wendell
Nov 05, 2014 | 3910 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Once again, we hadn’t even finished celebrating Halloween before stores started putting out Christmas merchandise. Although it’s been going on for decades, the erosion of respect for our holidays and traditions has accelerated to the point where I wonder if it can ever be reversed.

All that being said, it’s never too early to do something good for others, especially children. Every year, the East Coast Car Association (ECCA) holds a Toy Run for the kids at St. Mary's Healthcare System for Children in Bayside.

In addition to carloads of toys, ECCA also donates money it has raised at classic car shows throughout the year. Over the last 15 years, ECCA has raised over $110,000 for St. Mary’s and donated thousands of presents.

Last year, residents of Woodhaven made a very small contribution to the cause, donating a few dozen toys and participating in the annual trek from Forest Park to Bayside. It’s a wonderful cause and one we’re proud to be associated with.

Once again this year, residents can participate by donating new, unwrapped toys (no stuffed animals) to the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association. We will be accepting them at our next Town Hall meeting, which starts at noon on Saturday November 15, at the American Legion Hall, 89-02 91st Street (behind PS 60).

If you cannot make our meeting, you can also drop toys off at Spirare Cleaners, directly next door to the WRBA at 84-20 Jamaica Avenue.

Last year, we were fortunate to have taken part in the run to Bayside. Over 100 classic cars, bikes and regular cars gathered at the Forest Park Bandshell and drove in a straight line all the way to Bayside. Once inside, the toys were unloaded from the cars and wheeled in giant bins into a large room inside the children’s healthcare facility.

Young children were brought down to the room, which was now packed with around 2,000 toys and presents, and allowed to take their pick. Seeing their faces light up at the sight of so many toys was something I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

Congratulations to the East Coast Car Association on their many years of being the embodiment of the spirit of our holidays, of giving, of being thankful for our good fortunes, and of being kind to our fellow human beings.

Cars will start lining up for this year’s Toy Run at 9 a.m. on Sunday, November 16, and the Toy Run itself will start at 12:30 p.m. It’s a fun free event open to everyone. It’s great to see all of those great classic cars in action. You can find out more information online at www.eccatoysfortots.org.

And if your tastes run to motorcycles, there will be a Bike Run leaving from Forest Park at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, December 7, this one benefiting the New York Families for Autistic Children (NYFAC). This is the first annual Bike Run to NYFAC, which is located at 164-14 Crossbay Boulevard. Participants are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy for children to the bandshell.

“We're very excited for this first annual toy run from Forest Park to NYFAC,” said Andrew Baumann, president and CEO of New York Families for Autistic Children. “We look forward to collecting as many toys as possible, with your help, so we can make the holidays merry and bright this year.”

There are plenty of good opportunities to celebrate the spirit and true meaning of our holidays around our community, these are just two that you can be a part of. Every donation, no matter how small, makes a difference.

At this month’s meeting we’ll also be brainstorming ideas for the upcoming round of participatory budgeting, where residents decide on how money will be spent in our community. This will be the subject of next week’s column, but for now I’ll leave you with this question to ponder: if you could spend a million dollars on your community, how would you spend it?

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