2002-12-28 / Community

Organizations Help P.S. 197 Toy Drive

Organizations Help P.S. 197 Toy Drive

"Seeing a child’s face light up upon opening a beautifully wrapped gift is priceless." That was the sentiment of Glennes Bryant, Community School Coordinator at PS 197, when she sent out numerous letters to different companies asking that they adopt a grade and donate toys for the Far Rockaway elementary school children. A Title 1 school, the population of PS 197 is impoverished. As the school motto states, "Cultivating Valuable Pearls," Bryant wanted to do her part to ensure that these children received a special gift.

The Cross Island YMCA (Bellerose, Queens) responded to the cause with great enthusiasm and adopted the kindergarten and first grades. The Y runs a Virtual Y After School Child Care Program at PS 197. Donations of toys from the Y’s staff, members, and Board of Managers began pouring in.

The toy drive drew the attention of John Stimpfel, a member of the Board and the Vice President of the neighboring Floral Park Kiwanis Club. Stimpfel and Rev. Victor Rapp, who is also a member of the Kiwanis Club, invited the YMCA to a warehouse of refurbished toys that they had acquired for other causes. Y staffers, Bernadette Lee and Durrell Leak spent several hours sorting toys, loading a truck and transporting the windfall to PS 197.

With the help of Virtual Y staff, parents and P.S. 197 staff, the gifts were wrapped and labeled according to gender. With 129 girls and 116 boys to cover, they were still 100 gifts short of meeting the goal. Again, the call for more gifts was immediately answered through additional donations from YMCA Board, Staff and Members. Toys ‘R Us also responded, allowing Bryant to work with one of its warehouses in Brooklyn.

On Friday, December 20, 2002, Hugh Delgato a staff member from at the YMCA’s Beacon Center in Ozone Park donned a donated Santa suit and handed out the presents to the delight of the children. The auditorium was a sea of wrapping paper shrapnel and smiles from ear to ear.

"This is a perfect example of how organizations and communities can join forces to make our world a better place to live in," commented Bernadette Lee, Director of Resource Development for the Cross Island Y.

"I want to thank all who helped. You truly made a difference in the lives of the children of PS 197."

PS 197 Community School is located on Hicksville Road in Far Rockaway, and The Cross Island YMCA is located at 238-10 Hillside Avenue in Bellerose. For more information on YMCA programs or services, call 718 479-0505.

The YMCA of Greater New York is a community service organization which promotes positive values through programs that build spirit, mind and body, welcoming all people, with a focus on youth.

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