2005-10-21 / Sports

Toomer, Giants Bring Joy To M.S. 198

By Elio Velez

New York Giants Wide Receiver Amani Toomer has handheld the pressure of playing at packed stadiums and opposing teams throughout his 10 year NFL career. He’s faced different defenses, cornerbacks and through it all, he became the most prolific receiver in Giants history. Already used to the challenges of the football field, Toomer has also scored touchdowns when it comes to charitable endeavors.

The students of M.S. 198 will benefit as the newest recipient from Amani Toomer’ Foundation. A $60,000 grant was given to the school to build a new playground, which will be constructed in the existing blacktop surface behind the school. Modells gave an additional $5,000 along with additional contributions from the New York Giants, and the United Way.

MS 198 principal Andrea Logan and Region 5 Superintendent Kathleen Cashin were some of the school officials who attended the announcement.

The playground will include a basketball court, tennis courts, gym equipment and a new playground set. The students cannot use the basketball courts near the elevated tracks because the Parks Department has locked up the grounds.

“My wife (Dr. Yolanda Dabrowski) and I really wanted to do something and give back to the community,” Toomer, who was accompanied by teammate Chad Morton and Giants’ officials, said. “We wanted the kids to have fun. We want them to enjoy being around each other and going outside.”

The 31 year old former University of Michigan star has been involved in numerous different charities throughout his career. But when he read news reports three years ago that New York City would be slashing funds for after school programs, Toomer quickly began to act. “I went to public school in San Francisco growing up and I know how much high school programs and after school programs can change someone’s life,” said Toomer.

State Senator Malcolm Smith, whose office was also instrumental in helping to bring the project to MS 198, was overjoyed at the contribution shown by the Toomer Foundation.

“They’ve got a wonderful program and we’re trying to keep the kids excited. We want them to see that what sports figures for the community are doing in giving back,” Smith said. “It’s an exciting day. It keeps the kids busy and keeps them off the streets.”

Toomer says that the outer boroughs were important to focus on since the lack of funds affected areas such as Rockaway. The playground will be completed in a couple of months.

Toomer knows about the reorganization of MS 198 by Region 5, which will phase out the current school and eventually host students from kindergarten through the eighth grade.

District 27 Superintendent Michelle Lloyd-Bey says the playground is a new step in eventually helping what will be called the Goldie Maple Academy at MS 198. With a new school, new playground and a new program, we expect to have a better 198,” Bey said. “We need the cooperation of everyone to make this school work.”

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