The gifts were collected through Assemblyman David Weprin and Irwin Altman Middle School 172’s holiday toy drive for the children of Heartshare Human Services of New York, as well as additional children’s programs throughout Richmond Hill.
The toy drive was held in memory of Jason Mark Weinstein, son of Jeremy S. Weinstein of the Supreme Court of Queens, and grandson of former Assembly Speaker and Judge Moses Weinstein. The 42-year-old, who was a former staff member of Councilman Rory Lancman, died from a heart attack earlier this year.
Volunteers from the Duty Free store at JFK Airport Terminal 4 also donated toys and helped wrap gifts, which included dolls, toy trucks, basketballs, learning cubes and toy keyboards.
“We do have 21 million passengers passing by the terminal every year and giving back is something that’s important to us,” said employee Eleanor Ye.
Co-worker Thylia Byas added that the group has been working with the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Queens since 2013, and attended several events at the club throughout the year, including a recent Thanksgiving potluck.
Victoria (11), Angelina (13), and Emily (11) are members of the club and signed up to assist the volunteers as a way to “do a fun activity with friends while doing something nice for others,” according to Victoria.
Several employees from the New York Racing Association also helped out with gift wrapping. It’s the first time the group decided to partner with the club for the drive, but the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Queens is one of the organizations they support throughout the year.
“As members of NYRA and being based out of Aqueduct Racetrack, we feel that it’s very important to give back to the community that supports our organization year round,” said Zach Richards, strategic partnerships account executive at NYRA. “We can support them, especially during this time of the year which is the time of giving back and of coming together as a community.”