Santa Claus rang his sleigh bells loudly as he combed the halls of the Queens Centers for Progress (QCP) Children’s Center. Followed closely by Frosty the Snowman, the pair peeked inside various rooms, searching for children. Toys in hand, they entered one at the end of the hallway — to an eruption of delighted squeals.
For the past 10 years, the Jamaica Rotary and the 112th, 113th and 103rd Precincts, as well as officers from NYPD Patrol Borough Queens South, have teamed up with QCP to provide gifts for the center’s children during the holiday season.
QCP is an organization that provides educational and residential services for children and adults in Queens county living with Cerebral Palsy and other developmental disabilities, in hopes to maximize their quality of life.
Walter Durchalter, Vice President of the Jamaica Rotary, stood amongst the crowd, grabbing gifts off a cart and handing them to the excited children. His four daughters joined him at the event, dishing out gifts and wishing the children a “Merry Christmas.”
“We’re giving out toys to all the residents,” said Durchalter. “It’s something nice to give back to the community.”
Santa and Frosty shuffled down the hallway to another classroom, trailed closely by a caravan of helpers. Santa greeted the next roomful of children, waving and posing for photographs. He wished them a “Merry Christmas” and handed each child a present. Frosty shook hands with kids, dishing out gifts.
According to Durchalter, each toy was purchased by the Rotary using member-donated funds. Even Santa Claus turned out to be Jamaica Rotary President Joe Iaboni.
“I’m here to share in the charity and Christmas spirit,” said Lieutenant Donzel Cleare, head of Community Affairs for Patrol Borough Queens South. “The most important thing is to try to bring a smile to someone else.”
“It’s all about giving back,” he continued. “We take a lot for granted. To come here and do something for someone else, that’s what it’s all about.”
Charles Houston, executive director of QCP since 1988, said he was glad to have the support of so many local individuals.
“Government funding never quite gets us where we need to be,” said Houston. “So we rely on community groups, like the Rotary. Some of these kids don’t get a lot of presents, so [the toy drive] just adds to the holiday spirit.”