Yearly Archives: 2013

Longtime Queens borough president aide to retire


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy Dominick Totino Photography

The right-hand woman to the last two Queens borough presidents is retiring after 30 years in Borough Hall.

Alexandra Rosa, chief of staff to Borough Presidents Claire Shulman and Helen Marshall, will leave at year’s end. She plans to transition into the nonprofit sector.

“I feel that it’s time to move to the next stage of my life, and I’m happy to do that,” she said. “I’m grateful and honored to have had the opportunity to serve the borough of Queens.”

Rosa, 59, helped Marshall develop strategies for investing more than $650 million in capital budget items over a decade. She also played a key role in strengthening the public library system and expanding the borough’s cultural centers.

“So much of the borough has changed,” Rosa said. “We’ve gone through tremendous struggles. On the other hand, we’ve seen tremendous triumph.”

The top aide said Queens, like the rest of the city, was rocked by Sept.11, Superstorm Sandy, a recession and foreclosures.

But the borough came out swinging, with more senior housing, the renaissance of downtown Jamaica and new economic potential unleashed “through the power of zoning,” Rosa said, pointing to newly approved developments in Willets Point and western Queens.

On a smaller platform, the newly opened Children’s Library Discovery Center, a 14,000-square-foot hands-on science and technology-focused exhibit in Jamaica, was one of the most memorable for the outgoing aide.

“It’s something I was able to participate in from its earliest stage of an idea to opening and seeing children engage in exploring the exhibits that were there,” Rosa said. “That was a real beginning-to-end experience.”

Marshall is term-limited and will give up the seat she held since 2001 to Melinda Katz.

Earlier this month, Katz tapped Councilmember Leroy Comrie to be her deputy borough president and Jay Bond, a former longtime aide, as chief of staff.

Rosa said the new administration under Katz will take the borough to the next level and continue the path of progress.

“I’m going to miss working for some really great people. We’ve done some tremendous things together,” Rosa said. “Life is about change, and this is a new phase that I’m embracing.”

 

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One dead, one wounded in Far Rockaway shooting


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A shooting inside a Far Rockaway home Monday left one man dead and another wounded, police said.

Shots rang out about 8 p.m. inside a residence at 211 Beach 31st St, police said. Daniel Fils, 18, was struck once in the chest and a 23-year-old man was shot in the arm.

Fils was taken to St. John’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.

The second victim was taken to Jamaica Hospital in stable condition.

Police said the investigation is ongoing.

 

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Track Santa’s journey around the world


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Screenshot/noradsanta.org

Once again, both the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and Google are providing updates on Santa’s whereabouts while he delivers presents around the world.

NORAD’s santa updates are a tradition that started in 1955 when a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa, according to noradsanta.org.

Those calls went to the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Commander-in-Chief’s operations, and not wanting to disappoint the children who called, the director of operations had his staff “check the radar” for Santa’s location.

CONAD continued to track Santa until 1958 when the newly created bi-national air defense command, NORAD, took over the task.

Today, tracking Santa has gone high-tech.

Volunteers still respond to phone calls, but answer emails as well.

Updates are also posted to Twitter through @NoradSanta, Facebook, where the NORAD Santa tracker has more than a million likes, smartphone and tablet apps, and on noradsanta.org.

The website, which is available in eight languages, features an interactive map that tracks Santa in real time, and information on where he was last spotted, where he is headed next and how many gifts he has delivered.

Google also has its own Santa Dashboard to track his Christmas Eve journey.

For seven years NORAD used Google Maps to track Santa, until last year when Microsoft started providing the mapping software.

Google has amped up its Santa Dashboard this year to compete with NORAD, according to the Huffington Post, and now has a Santa tracking app for Android.

 

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Police looking for suspect in stabbing outside Jamaica bar


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

A dispute between two men in front of a Jamaica bar Saturday ended in a stabbing, cops said.

The altercation happened about 4:50 a.m. outside of Euphoria Bar, at 144-05 Jamaica Ave., police said.

During the argument, the suspect stabbed the 22-year-old victim several times, then fled westbound on Jamaica Avenue in a black four-door sedan, according to the NYPD.

The victim was taken to a local hospital in critical but stable condition.

Police have released photos of the suspect and the vehicle.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Sun and clouds mixed. High near 40. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph. Tuesday night: Snow ending this evening followed by clearing late. Low 24. Winds NW at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of snow 50%. Snow accumulations less than one inch.

Bus rides for NYC schoolchildren to continue after winter break

City education officials have good news for 40,000 students and their families who didn’t know how the kids were going to get to class after the winter break: They’re getting a ride on a yellow school bus, just like before. Read more: New York Daily News

De Blasio names 2 women to top administration jobs

New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has appointed a Goldman Sachs executive as the deputy mayor of housing and economic development. Read more: AP

New York extends health care signup deadline to Tuesday

New Yorkers whose health insurance policies were cancelled because of federal health care reform are now getting a one-day extension to pick a replacement plan in order to avoid a lapse in coverage on Jan. 1. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Shoppers hit stores in last-minute Christmas rush

The Christmas shopping rush is shifting into high gear, with big stores across the Tri-state keeping their doors open all day and into the night, hoping to give those last-minute shoppers some extra time. Read more: ABC New York

Radio legend Stan Brooks dies

The legendary New York City radio reporter Stan Brooks has died, according to his station, 1010 WINS. He was 86. Read more: Fox New York

Woman dies after jumping in front of train at Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenues station


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

A woman was killed Monday morning after she was struck by an M train at a subway station on the Ridgewood border, police said.

The woman, who police said was in her 30s, was pronounced dead about 9:30 a.m. at the Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenues station

Cops said the woman was hit after she jumped in front of a Queens-bound train.

 

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Pols call for law change after driver with suspended license fatally strikes Woodside boy


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

BY CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND ANGY ALTAMIRANO

Local elected officials are calling for a change in the law to prevent another child, like 8-year-old Noshat Nahian, from losing their life.

Noshat was crossing the street with his 11-year-old sister on the way to school at P.S. 152 in Woodside around 8 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 20 when a tractor trailer traveling southbound on 61st Street made a left turn onto Northern Boulevard, striking him with its rear tires, police said. He was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The driver, Mauricio Osorio-Palominos, 51, of Newark, N.J., who remained on the scene of the accident, has been charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of motor vehicle and operating vehicle in violation of safety rules, police said.

Osorio-Palominos was driving with a suspended license with multiple violations on his record during the accident, according to State Senator Michael Gianaris.

In response, Gianaris gathered with local officials, residents and advocacy groups at the site of the accident Monday to introduce legislation that would make it a felony if drivers with suspended licenses either seriously injure or kill someone with their vehicle. Under current law, a driver like Osorio-Palominos could be charged with a misdemeanor.

“The law needs to get tougher,” said Gianaris. “Those who have suspended licenses are twice as likely to kill somebody or injure somebody, or twice as likely to have major accidents, the law has to catch up with the data, we just need to get these people off the streets.”

Gianaris has also proposed the immediate impoundment of a vehicle’s license plate if it were being operated by someone with a suspended license.

The new bill will be co-sponsored by Senators Toby Ann Stavisky and Jose Peralta and also supported by Assemblymember Michael Den Dekker, Congressmember Joseph Crowley and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.

“I have an 8-year-old son and it could have been my child, it could have been my son that was hit that Friday morning,” said Peralta. “And we need to send a loud message not only to the city but to anyone who does this, who rides without a license, that this is not going to be acceptable.”

Advocate groups like Transportation Alternatives, Make Queens Safer and Woodside on the Move, are also looking to implement other safety measures like crossing guards, stalled green lights and much more.

“None of this should of happen, all of this could have been prevented,” said Van Bramer. “This school has been asking for a crossing guard at this location for months. [It’s] absolutely disgraceful that the administration did not provide the crossing guard when it was requested, when it was clearly needed. Anybody who has been on this street for more than five minutes knows that this requires a crossing guard.”

Advocacy group Make Queens Safer organized a traffic safety memorial and vigil at 61st Street and Northern Boulevard Sunday where Noshat’s family and hundreds of residents gathered to remember the 8-year-old and other victims of traffic fatalities.

 

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Queens pol calls it quits on homeless experiment, but plans to try again


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the New York Daily News

Councilmember Ruben Wills took a dive into the lives of our city’s homeless to highlight hardships for those living in poverty, but called it quits after being diagnosed with pneumonia.

The councilmember began his journey to get a better look into the lives and struggles of the city’s population on the streets on Dec. 17.

“I knew for a fact going into it I would never understand the homeless situation, but I wanted to begin to develop an area of which I can begin to legislate,” Wills said.

His experiment contained various parts, he said, including sleeping on the streets, making enough money to eat and travel and gaining access to health care.

“The homeless situation goes beyond the primary factors that everyone understands. It goes beyond somebody losing their job,” he said.

The councilmember started at the Q6 bus shelter on Rockaway Boulevard and Baisley Boulevard, dressed in jeans, a sweater, a camouflage jacket, scarf and hat. He slept there before heading to a nearby Gulf gas station to “pump gas for change” for transportation costs.

Throughout his experiment, he continued to pump gas and also held open doors for spare change. He said he “didn’t beg” and discovered his fellow homeless “don’t want to sit there and beg for money, they would rather be equipped to work.”

However, his first night out, Wills went to the hospital and was diagnosed with pneumonia. After receiving antibiotics, he spent the night at the Staten Island Ferry terminal and continued his project the next day, but ultimately cut it short the night of Dec. 18.

“The experiment wasn’t for me to go out and die, it was for me to get a glimpse into the conditions they have,” he said.

After getting a doctors clearance, Wills plans to hit the streets once again and navigate the city’s homeless shelter system. He added other councilmembers want to join him, but did not say who.

In the new year, Wills hopes to call “immediate hearings” regarding policy for the homeless and hold open-panel discussions featuring those who “have gone through the homeless experience and survived.”

“To understand it after two days is impossible,” he said. “But at least I can have a glimpse of where we need to go for change.”

 

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Holy Cross basketball falls to Xaverian


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The Holy Cross High School basketball team is having a tough start to the season.

Following three consecutive losses to begin the year, including a 25-point deficit to powerhouse St. Raymond High School, the Knights narrowly missed winning their first game of the season against Xaverian High School Friday.

Knights junior guard Matthew Newton, who scored all his 12 points in the fourth quarter, fueled a second half burst, but Holy Cross (CHSAA 0-4) lost 64-57 to the Clippers (3-3).

“We just missed it by a little,” Newton said. “If we play a little harder next game we’ll win.”

With 2:33 left to play in the game, Newton hit two free throws to make the score 58-51. Following a free throw by Xaverian, Newton made a steal at 1:33 and scored a layup to bring the Knights within six points of tying the game, 59-53.

“I just tried to come back and help the team out. Try to get that W [win],” Newton said.

But with such little time left Holy Cross had resorted to fouling to stop the clock and couldn’t catch up to Xaverian.

Besides Newton, Jermaine Bishop scored 13 points, Joshua Wallace scored 11 points and added eight rebounds and five assists for the Knights.

The Knights trailed for most of the game. By halftime they were only behind 36-31, but after the break, Xaverian dominated Holy Cross by aggressively attacking the inside with layups and offensive rebounds, and quickly expanded the lead on an 8-0 run to go up 44-31.

Holy Cross players continued to shoot from the outside and avoid taking the ball inside and were missing long range shots. This caused the lead to expand until Newton hit two threes in a row. But even he admits that next time they need to stop relying on shooting.

“Coach said attack the basket more and stop shooting threes,” Newton said.

 

UPDATE- Holy Cross won their first game of the season against Fordham Prep High School on Monday, December 23, with a score of 59-49.

 

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104th Precinct officers donate to needy Ridgewood family


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Police officers from the 104th Precinct played Santa Claus for one Ridgewood family that recently suffered from domestic violence.

Officer Nicholas Cadavid and Sergeant Martha Lequerica organized a precinct donation collection for the family on Thursday, December 19, and raised more than $1,200.

Last week officers arrested a five-year-old boy’s father, whose name was withheld to protect the anonymity of the victims, for severely beating his son. The boy had bruises on his face and a gash on his forehead and need to be taken to a local hospital for stitches, police said.

“We see bad stuff every day but this one really stuck to us, when we saw the plight of this family,” said Captain Chris Manson of the 104th Precinct.

When the officers learned that the family of the boy was in need, they decided to donate some gifts. The boy lives with his mother and three other siblings, ages 11, 8, and a two-month-old infant in a Ridgewood apartment.

The officers brought the children snacks, bags filled with toys and clothes and boots for the cold weather. The money raised will go to buy bunk beds for the children.

 

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Star of Queens: Richard Khuzami, Community Board 1, chair, Parks and Culture Committee


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

RICHARD KHUZAMI 2

COMMUNITY  SERVICE:  Richard Khuzami has served on Community Board 1 for the past 11 years. He is currently Chair of the Parks and Culture Committee. He is also a member of Borough President Helen Marshall’s Queens General Assembly, and  has  served as a panelist for the awarding of grants for the Queens Council on the Arts.

BACKGROUND:  Khuzami is Lebanese-American, and while he was born in Bayside, he was raised in Rochester. His parents were both professional dancers, which led to his interest in music from the age of 10.

“I have kept this interest alive over the years, and today I specialize in the music of the Middle East, eastern Mediterranean and Northern Africa,” said Khuzami.

He also spent many years in the international shipping business in freight forwarding sales.

“This afforded me the opportunity to travel throughout the world for many years. I still love traveling to many cultures, but today I only have to go around Astoria, one of the most ethnically diverse municipalities in the world,” he said.

FAVORITE MEMORY: Khuzami enjoys having the privilege of working with many dedicated community board and General Assembly members, who donate so much of themselves to making their neighborhood and borough the best it can be.

“My favorite accomplishment is in helping to facilitate the conversion of Astoria Park’s diving pool from a mosquito infested eyesore to the potential of becoming one of the most important performance venues in the United States,” said Khuzami.  “Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.’s foresight has made this space a reality, and I look forward to working with our new councilmember, Costa Constantinides, to secure the funding to complete the second phase of the construction, creating an unparalleled venue for 2,500 patrons.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “Probably my biggest challenge is to have patience and understanding to realize that everything, especially when dealing with the public sector, takes time. But with perseverance, progress can be made,” said Khuzami.

INSPIRATION:  “My father was a big proponent of public service, and taught us all to respect government and politics, and not shy away from making our opinions known or getting involved,” said Khuzami.  “As my free time increased, it was natural that I try and give back to a community I love, Astoria.”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Cloudy with periods of rain. High 56. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph. Rainfall near a half an inch. Monday night: Cloudy. Low near 35. Winds NNW at 10 to 20 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas

This holiday season, the imaginative, playful, and creative film and television work of Jim Henson will be celebrated by the Museum of the Moving Image in the screening series “Jim Henson’s World.” On Monday at 1 p.m. the museum will screen “Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas.” This television special tells the story of Ma Otter and her son Emmet, who both secretly enter a talent contest to win money for Christmas presents for each other. The screenings also includes Kermit the Frog’s segments, as well as outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage. There will also be screenings at 1 p.m. Dec. 26- Jan. 1. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Record-setting warmth continues as temperatures hit 70s

Record-setting temperatures around 30 degrees higher than usual were recorded throughout the tri-state area this weekend. Read more: NBC New York

Bill would increase suspended license penalties

New legislation will be introduced Monday to make it a more serious crime to drive with a suspended license after a Queens boy was killed by a truck driver who should not have been on the road. Read more: New York Post

Micro-apartments planned in NYC can lead to major psychological problems: report

Micro-apartments could lead to major psychological problems, a report shows. The city plans to build a residential tower of apartments between 250 and 370 square feet at 225 E. 27th St. in Manhattan. Read more: New York Daily News

De-Blasio announces new head of Childrens Services

A woman born and raised in the Bronx, has been tapped as the next head of Childrens Services for New York City. Read more: Fox New York

Israel bus bombing prompts NYPD to beef up security across city

The NYPD is beefing up security across the city following a bus bombing in Tel Aviv, Israel. Read more: AP

On eve of inauguration, Bill de Blasio faces high voter expectations: poll

As Bill de Blasio prepares to take the oath of office as New York’s 109th mayor, a poll shows the voters who awarded him a landslide victory are now expressing high hopes about his coming administration, showing that in politics, great promises come with great expectations. Read more: NBC New York

Plans reveal new shopping center could come to Glendale


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Glendale Shopping Center

A 350,000-square-foot shopping center could be coming to Glendale, according to a brochure by Schuckman Realty obtained by The Courier.

The center will be located on 8200 Cooper Ave., next to The Shops at Atlas Park, and will be built in two phases.

Phase one, which is expected to be completed by fall 2015, consists of more than 137,000 square feet of retail, 133,650 square feet of storage, about 500 free parking spots and outdoor seating areas. While phase two will have about 80,000 square feet of retail and will be finished in spring 2016.

The proposed development will have three anchor tenants along with small stores, restaurants with outdoor seating and freestanding pad buildings with drive-thrus.

Some Glendale leaders and residents are worried the area will be inundated with traffic.

“I don’t think it is a very good spot to put more shops. There is too much traffic,” said Michelle Cook-Lopez, a member of the Glendale Property Owners Association. “Personally I think we need more manufacturing jobs. We are losing that in Glendale.”

Schuckman Realty did not return calls or emails for comment.

Glendale Shopping Center 8200 Cooper Av (1) by The Queens Courier

 

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MTA service for Christmas, New Year’s holidays


| editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

The MTA has issued the following service changes for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, from Tuesday, December 24 through Thursday, January 2:

Tuesday, December 24

The subway will operate on a regular weekday schedule. The Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad and Staten Island Railway will offer extra afternoon trains.

The Staten Island Railway will operate additional express service beginning two hours earlier, from 2:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. City buses will operate on weekday schedules with minor timing changes, except for Staten Island, where limited stop routes S81, S84, S86, S90, S91, S92, S94, S96 and S98 will not operate. Weekday local service will operate along those routes. Limited stop routes S89 and S93 will operate on weekday schedules with minor timing changes.

All Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens “X” express routes will operate on weekday schedules with minor timing changes.

Wednesday, December 25

New York City subways and buses and the Staten Island Railway will operate on a Sunday schedule. The LIRR and Metro-North will operate on a special holiday schedules as noted in timetables.

Thursday, December 26, Friday, December 27, and Monday, December 30

Subways will operate on a regular weekday schedule. The LIRR and Metro-North will operate on a weekday schedules. Metro-North will offer additional inbound service operated in the late morning, and slightly reduced AM Peak service.

On Thursday, December 26, the Staten Island Railway will operate on a Monday schedule.

City buses will operate on weekday schedules with minor timing changes, except for Staten Island, where limited stop routes S81, S84, S86, S90, S91, S92, S94, S96 and S98 will not operate. Weekday local service will operate along those routes. Limited stop routes S89 and S93 will operate on weekday schedules with minor timing changes.

All Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens “X” express routes will operate on weekday schedules with minor timing changes

Saturday, December 28

Metro-North will operate special service for the Rutgers vs. Notre Dame college football game at Yankee Stadium at 12:15 p.m., with a shuttle service between Grand Central, Harlem-125th Street and Yankees-East 153rd Street stations.

Tuesday, December 31

Metro-North and the LIRR will operate on modified weekday schedules with extra New York City-bound service in the evening and extra service departing New York City after midnight. For special LIRR service from the Billy Joel concert at Barclays Center, extra trains leaving Atlantic Terminal will be timed to depart starting 20 minutes after the concert concludes.

Metro-North will have slightly reduced service during the traditional rush hour periods.

Customers heading to Times Square for the celebration should avoid using the 42 St-Times Square subway complex, since they may not be allowed to exit onto the street. In addition, the northbound platform at the 50th St. 1 station, and both north and southbound platforms at the 49th St. N/Q /R station will be closed from 7 p.m. until after midnight. Riders are urged to exit at the 57th Sts or 59 St- Columbus Circle stations instead and walk to Times Square.

Buses are not recommended for traveling to Times Square because of the numerous street closures in the area. Regular overnight bus service will resume as streets reopen after midnight. Following the celebration, trains on lines in and around Times Square will run every 8 to 12 minutes until approximately 3 a.m. The 42nd Street shuttle will operate all night.

City buses will operate on weekday schedules with minor timing changes, except for Staten Island, where limited stop routes S81, S84, S86, S90, S91, S92, S94, S96 and S98 will not operate. Weekday local service will operate along those routes. Limited stop routes S89 and S93 will operate on weekday schedules with minor timing changes. All Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Queens “X” express routes will operate on weekday schedules with minor timing changes.

Wednesday, January 1

City subways and buses and the Staten Island Railway will operate on a Sunday schedule, with longer waits on some bus routes. The LIRR and Metro-North will operate on a special holiday schedules. Metro-North will provide hourly service on most line segments and regular weekend service on branch lines.

Thursday, January 2

On Thursday, January 2, the Staten Island Railway will operate on a Monday schedule.

 

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Give back this holiday season


| Brandpoint@queenscourier.com

QC12122013

The holidays are known for eliciting cheer, thanks and a sense of community as families come together to share some of their most treasured traditions, whether that’s gathering for a special meal, organizing an activity or finding a way to give back to those less fortunate. Last year, Americans gave $316 billion to charity according to Giving USA, but it’s not just financial donations needed. Many organizations depend on donations of time and kindness to get by.

No matter what you choose to donate, giving back feels good. Consider all the different ways you can expand your charitable giving this holiday season:

Make a financial donation as a gift

Consider making a donation to a charity of choice in the name of the person who has everything. Many organizations will provide you with a thank-you card recognizing the donation, which you can then put under the tree for the holiday celebration.

Choose gifts that give back

The holidays are a time when many companies make donations to charities. One such company is Hickory Farms, which will donate $5 to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign for every Party Planner Gift Box sold this holiday season, up to $500,000. This delicious gift box includes Summer Sausage, smooth and creamy cheeses, fresh nuts and crunchy snack mix.

“We are honored to be supported by Hickory Farms again this season. These kinds of partnerships enable us to scale and sustain our efforts to feed more children,” says Billy Shore, founder and CEO of Share Our Strength. “Just $5 can help a child in need receive up to 50 meals. Every donation makes a huge difference.”

Organize a drive

Food banks and clothing charities often struggle with providing enough sustainable food and warm clothing for those in need during the winter months. Have your family and friends ask coworkers and neighbors about donating to your local food bank or clothing charity. Send an announcement via email or post signs on doors a week in advance of your drive. This gives people a chance to collect additional items to be donated.

The holiday season is a time with endless opportunities to give back, whether it’s to an organization you’ve long been affiliated with or to a new cause that you’re just learning about. Giving back to others will help enhance all the emotions and warm feelings the holiday season is meant to bring.

Courtesy BPT

 

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