Dinner benefits Toys for Tots


| csantucci@queenscourier.com |

Residents of Howard Beach, Ozone Park and beyond opened their hearts - and wallets - to ensure that Queens kids had a happy holiday. At a fundraising dinner dance on Saturday, December 23, organizers collected more than 350 gifts for “Toys for Tots.”
“Everybody had a nice time and the party will continue every year,” said Tommy Causi, one of the event’s organizers and co-owner of Howard Beach Formal, on Wednesday, December 26.
The third-annual event, which drew more than 140 guests, was held at La Bella Vita Restaurant and Catering, located at 106-09 Rockaway Boulevard in Ozone Park, and was organized by the owners of Howard Beach Formal and Traza Insurance Agency.
Traza owner Robert Traza played Santa, and the event’s other organizers, Anthony Causi and Serge Andrushkevich of Traza, and Lenny Valenti of Howard Beach Formals, helped to sell raffle tickets for charity, host the evening and arrange the event.
Two Marines - Lance Corporal Kevin Merrill and Staff Sergeant George Wallington, both from the 6th Communication Battalion - were on hand to haul off the toys at the end of the event with a U-haul truck and an SUV.
However, they first had the chance to chat with dinner-goers like Carmine DeFalco of South Ozone Park, who dropped off a kid’s car, and John and Vidya Iannico of Brooklyn.
Next year, Tommy Causi said he hopes to donate toys directly to local hospitals and foster agencies.
“It’s a good thing to do for kids that don’t have families and for kids that are in need,” he said. “It’s the holidays. It’s Christmas. All kids deserve to have toys.”