This was the year that was…and what a year!

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Hudson Dean Schneps came into the world this year!

I often say you can’t predict the future, you can only live for today, and you can hold onto your memories. And my closing out of 2012 is remembering the sweet moments, and even the challenging ones.

As a mother of four children I delighted in their birth, but now as a grandmother I am in awe as each grandchild is born. To me each of the five grandchildren is truly a miracle. And this year brought my darling Hudson Dean Schneps, now five months old. His birth was the light of my life this year.

His father, my son Josh, was born to be a father, as he is so loving and caring. And to see Tracey and Josh with their darling little boy makes my heart burst with love. He is growing and each day I see him evolving, with a smile, a giggle, a holding of his head — all magical steps of growth. How grateful we are.

It’s been a year of great tragedy for so many who lost so much after Sandy. A highlight of my year was to bring joy and laughter to the children affected by this nasty storm.

Having lost much also was Frank Russo, whose famous catering hall, Russo’s on the Bay, and restaurant, Vetro, were storm tossed and out of business for weeks. But Frank is a resourceful person and he was able to reopen his catering hall and a few weeks later his restaurant, both in Howard Beach. Each year our editorial staff plays Santa, bringing children in need all the toys we collect during the holiday season. This year Frank wanted to hold a holiday party for the children affected by the storm in Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach and the Rockaways. So we combined forces and a party for over 1,185 children was organized in only a week-and-half! What a remarkable feat.

Frank Russo and his staff arranged for buses from Consolidated Bus Transit, Inc. for schools to bring their students in two shifts. I loved the sounds of the young children’s chatter as they laughingly filled the grand ballroom. Like clockwork, they wound their way through the food from cotton candy, to popcorn to hot dogs to chicken fingers to a constant flow of soda. Along the way, each child was also given the special treat of a balloon animal, photos and more fun! But what is a party without the toys?

So many people helped to assure that each child went home with a gift.

Endless smiles abounded thanks to those who generously gave. The Queens Courier collected toys, thanks to our generous readers and advertisers, and the Queens Chamber of Commerce Foundation donated $5,000 for the purchase of gifts. Presents also came from Lois Christie of Christie & Co. Salon, who donated products from Procter & Gamble, L’Oreal, Matrix, and even gave out certificates for beauty makeovers for the staff who accompanied the children. Then there was Dr. Mary Andrea, who bought $1,000 worth of toys, and old friends Heskel and Janet Elias who collected and donated toys they sell at their American Car Wash in Manhasset. My daughter Samantha even reached out to parents in the Roslyn schools who also gave us toys that they had collected.

The superbly organized event ended with lines of joyous children smiling broadly as they left clutching their gifts.

What a wonderful way to end the year! What a sweet memory to hold onto as this year comes to a close. To a wonderfully healthy, happy and prosperous new year to you and your family from mine!


Lois Christie generously donated brand-name products.


Frank Russo and Heskel Elias were among the many who helped make the kids’ party possible.

Dr. Mary Andrea (right) gave $1,000 worth of toys.