Tag Archives: holidays

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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Long Island City lights up for the holidays


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer's Office

The Long Island City community came together to welcome the holidays and make the season bright.

Over 100 residents young and old gathered with local elected officials and community leaders on Tuesday night to celebrate the holidays by lighting festive snowflakes along Vernon Boulevard.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer worked together with JetBlue to a secure a $5,000 grant to bring the holiday lights to the thriving neighborhood.

The holiday celebration included Christmas carols sung by students from P.S. 78, led by Gianna Cerbone-Teoli, owner of Manducatis Rustica located at 46-33 Vernon Boulevard.

The night also included readings of special Christmas stories by the fireplace of LIC BAR, located at 45-58 Vernon Boulevard, and a performance by local jazz group, The Charlie Brown Christmas Trio.

 

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The Courier, Queens Chamber of Commerce & Russo’s on the Bay team up to make Christmas bright for kids


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

047-DSC_2620 (640x427)

Under the sparkling chandeliers and twinkling Christmas lights, seventh grader Maddie McDade smiled brightly.

The St. Francis de Sales student’s Belle Harbor home burned down during Superstorm Sandy, leaving her and her family displaced to parts of Long Island and Brooklyn just weeks before the holidays. She, and students from five south Queens schools, attended a holiday celebration at Russo’s on the Bay on Tuesday, December 18, hosted by The Queens Courier and the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

“We’re all getting together and I’m excited to see everyone,” said Maddie. “And it’s a nice celebration we’re having after everything and everyone being sad. It kind of brings everything up.”

Over 1,000 students in kindergarten through eighth grade gathered at the event hall for lunch, music, entertainment and gifts. Jugglers and magicians travelled from table to table, showing off their skills to students whose mouths dropped to the floor. Nick the Baloonatic – a renowned balloon artist – created swords, hats and animals out of colorful rubber and thin air for the amazed guests. Even Santa was present, making his grand entrance to the sounds of delighted screams and cheers. Students clamored up to Saint Nick’s gilded throne, posing for pictures with the man in red.

Click here to see all the photos from the event

“For us, this was just a simple way to bring joy to children at this time who really, truly need it,” said Russo’s on the Bay owner Frank Russo Jr.

Jack Friedman, Executive Director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, couldn’t have been happier to provide such a wonderful experience for children who have experience such tragedy. The Queens Chamber of Commerce Foundation provided essential funding to give each child a gift at the end of the celebration.

“Many of [the children] lost homes, personal possessions, many were displaced or had no electricity for weeks,” said Friedman. “The impact on children, the stress on children is something that’s rarely looked at, so to put a smile on children’s faces today is just a great, wonderful thing. These children missed out on Halloween so we’re going to make sure they have a merry Christmas.”

Callie Todd, a 3rd grader at St. Rose of Lima, is finally back in her Breezy Point home after the storm. The spirited amateur equestrian hopes to get the American Girl horseback riding set for Christmas, but is just ecstatic to be home again with all her toys.

Kindergartner John Anthony Grimes from Ave Maria Catholic Academy was excited for the day’s activities and to meet Santa Claus. After staying in his grandparents’ house for several weeks after the storm, he said he couldn’t wait for Christmas, and hoped to find a toy dirt bike under the tree.

Theresa Andersen, principal of St. Rose of Lima, said the school has continued to carry on holiday festivities, despite the tragic events of Sandy. She thanked Frank Russo Jr. for his immense kindness, stating that the school even switched the date of their Christmas show so children would not miss out on the party.

“This is a wonderful thing that [Russo] didn’t have to do, but he did it from the heart, and the children were so excited,” said Andersen.

Other volunteers who made this event possible were Archbishop Molloy High School Student Volunteers, Consolidated Bus Transit, Inc., Flowers by Brian, Danielle Michaels of Adrenaline Entertainment, Nick the Balloonatic, Magician Lou Johnson, Jack Lasala of Satisfaction Guaranteed DJs, Nicky Guida of 2+2 DJs, Steven Retas of Classie Sounds, Artie D’Alessio, Dan Drennan, Robert Castellano, Scott Nastro, Julian Nardulli of Express It Video, Susan McVea, Party City in Bayside, Mullen Advertising Agency, Lois Christie and the staff of Christie & Co. Salon * Spa, New York Hospital Queens, John and Colette Roe, the Jamaica Rotary, Dr. Mary Andrea, Benefits Advisory Group, All Car Rental Car, Rego Park Forest Hills Kiwanis, the Giving Tree Family, the New York Daily News, and Heskel and Janet Elias and American Car Wash.

- Additional reporting by Terence M. Cullen

Gas-saving holiday travel tips


| Brandpoint@queenscourier.com

The holidays are for giving, but with all the driving around for shopping, parties and family events, you may end up giving more at the gas station due to Grinch-like fuel costs. Holiday jeer can quickly become holiday cheer, though, by simply practicing some gas-saving tips.

“There are all sorts of ways to make sure you’re getting the best fuel efficiency out of your car,” says Andrew Briggs, director of product planning for Yokohama Tire Corporation, makers of a variety of truck and car tires. “One of the best – and easiest – is to properly inflate your tires. Tires that are under-inflated by eight pounds per square inch (psi) can reduce vehicle fuel economy by as much as two percent. By keeping the right air pressure, you can begin cutting down on your annual fuel costs.”

Briggs says that even though tires are engineering marvels affecting everything from braking distance and accident avoidance to ride comfort and fuel efficiency, they are easily overlooked – especially when it comes to checking tire pressure. “It’s natural to forget, but for the best gas-saving results, checking your tire pressure should become a monthly routine. It only takes five minutes. If you’re not doing it once a month, chances are you’re driving on under-inflated tires and burning money.”

Another way to save at the pump is to drive on low rolling resistance tires, which improve fuel efficiency because they generate less internal heat as the tire rolls down the road. “With low rolling resistance tires, less energy is wasted,” says Briggs. “That’s a big benefit for budget-conscious consumers who want to maximize their mileage. Studies show driving on low rolling resistance tires alone can save hundreds of dollars over the life of the tire on gas. The tire has Yokohama’s unique orange oil technology, which uses the oil from orange peels to create a special compound that makes an unusually strong bond between synthetic and natural rubber. The result is a tire that offers low rolling resistance.”

Briggs says there are many ways your tires and vehicles can help save money for the holidays, including driving smarter. Here are some of his money-saving tips:

* Keep your tires properly inflated. Once a month, when the tires are cold (at least three to four hours after the vehicle has been driven), check tire pressure with a reliable tire gauge. Be sure the valve stems have a plastic or metal cap to keep dirt out and seal against leakage.

* Slow down. All vehicles lose fuel economy at speeds above 55 mph. Driving 55 mph instead of 75 mph can reduce fuel cost by 25 percent. Driving 65 mph instead of 75 mph can save 13 percent.

* Keep your car tuned up according to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule to keep all systems in good working order.

* Turn off your engine if you’re stopped for more than a couple of minutes. Fuel efficiency savings of up to 19 percent are possible by not letting your engine idle too long while stationary.

* Accelerating less from a stop and slowing moderately can increase fuel efficiency by more than 30 percent.

* Tire alignment should be checked once a year. Misaligned tires can cause the car to scrub, which lowers mileage and causes unnecessary tire wear.

For additional tire care and safety tips, visit www.yokohamatire.com or www.rma.org.

Add new experiences to your holiday gathering


| Brandpoint@queenscourier.com

Family gatherings during the holidays often involve everyone sitting around, catching up while children play with the toys they received as gifts. It’s a wonderful time for family to hear the latest on jobs, trips, hobbies and health, but it can also turn into a tedious repeat of listening to Uncle Joe’s story of the Christmas of 1954 when the tree caught fire and burned all the presents underneath.

If your family gathering needs a little spicing up this holiday season, consider adding new experiences to the plans, and making a new and fun tradition out of them. Here are some ideas to get started:

* Get out and enjoy the outdoors. If you live in snowy parts of the country, organize a snowshoe trek, sledding time or ice skating at a community rink. These activities can bring a healthy glow to your family members’ cheeks, as well as create new memories you can reminisce about at future family gatherings. If you don’t have snow in your area, consider planning a bike ride, a hike or even a golf outing to bring everyone together.

* Plan a meal away from the house. Instead of cooking all the meals for the gathering, plan a formal brunch or dinner at a nice restaurant, where everyone in your group can sit together and enjoy the food and holiday decorations.

* Make the gathering a retreat for all. This year, consider getting your family out of the house and turn your holiday gathering into a festive retreat.

* Host a family talent show. Everyone has a special talent in your family, so encourage them to bring their talent to the gathering. Promote costumes or props – if needed – to help enhance the fun. Just clear out a small area in the gathering location, set up a couple of chairs for audience members, and if you have the ability, dim the lights so the stage is in the spotlight. Of course, host a reception following the show with hot apple cider and cookies for all.

By bringing new activities to your holiday gathering this year, you’ll be creating many new memories to share in the future, as well as making the event much more enjoyable.

Make holiday entertaining a breeze


| Brandpoint@queenscourier.com

With the holidays drawing close, your home will soon be the center of attention when entertaining guests from near and far. From creating a festive atmosphere to feeding friends and family, it’s important to plan ahead for a hassle-free holiday season everyone will enjoy.

Make this season’s party planning less stressful and costly with these simple tips.

Decorate in a snap: Fill decorative clear glass jars with seasonal hard candies and treats such as candy canes, Christmas tree-shaped gum drops and red and white peppermints. Place jars either in a group or individually on an entryway table, fireplace mantle or end table for quick and tasty holiday decor. You can also use taller glass jars and fill them with pine cones, ornaments, fresh cranberries or evergreen branches for a more natural holiday look. Either way, these easy, inexpensive decorating tricks will create a festive ambiance in your home.

Keep it simple: Why not host a wine and cheese party instead of a sit-down meal? This type of party allows guests to mix and mingle freely, is budget (and waistline) friendly and requires little prep time so the host can enjoy the party and visit with guests. Set out a few wine, cheese and fruit pairings for guests to sample. Place cards identifying the combinations make good conversation starters too.

Evaluate your space: Providing enough space for you and your guests to move around will contribute to the success of the party. No one likes to fight their way across the room to greet a friend or when they accidentally knock over a wine glass with the slightest movement. Rearrange or remove furniture to provide a better flow throughout the space during the party, while still considering seating, serving and clean-up areas.

Pay attention to details: Make sure your home is welcoming when family and friends arrive. Keep front walks free of snow and ice, arrange evergreen branches in a large planter with a landscape light or two and place on the porch, or set an attractive basket with a folded towel at the bottom near the door to hold guests’ wet boots. Simple steps like these will make sharing your home more enjoyable and your guests feel welcome.

Now that you’ve prepared your home for entertaining, remember to take along a host or hostess gift when you’re the invited guest.

Holiday Choral Concert by The Community Singers of Queens


| editorial@queenscourier.com

The Community Singers of Queens will be performing a holiday choral concert on December 17 beginning at 8 p.m. at the Church on the Hill, located at 167-07 35th Avenue in Flushing. The choir, which consists of 30 members, will perform a unique collection of Christmas and Hanukkah songs.
Tickets cost $10 and will be available for purchase at the Church on the Hill on December 17. For more information, visit http://www.csofq.org/.

This Weekend in Queens


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Weekend Events in Queens – December 2-4

(Compiled from About.com & other sources)

Friday

 

Saturday

 

Sunday

Is it worth the calories?


| editorial@queenscourier.com

By Mirabai Holland, MFA © 2011

Last year, I threw my arms up in the air and decided I wasn’t going to diet over the holidays — and I didn’t.

I went wherever my instincts took me. If I wanted a piece of pie, I had a piece of pie. If I wanted it a la mode I said “sure, a la mode.” But around the second holiday party I caught myself thinking: “Is it wholesome or is it junk?  Is it worth the calories?” Was it worth a big piece, a sliver, or a “Nah, forget about it”?

My years of training crept in, and I was editing what I ate and sort of keeping track of the calories. You would think that would defeat the purpose of throwing my hands up in the air, but it didn’t. I had as much or more fun over the holidays last year as I ever had, and I ate whatever I wanted, only this time I didn’t feel guilty or bloated.

Of course, I’m going to try the same thing this year. I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m going to try to relax and not be too conscious of my system. I hope I can do that; I tend to obsess. Nonetheless, I urge you to try it. Let yourself eat the things you love. Just ask yourself “is it worth the calories?”  You’ll probably have just as good a time, and you may not even gain any weight.

Of course I am a fitness professional and I’d be remiss if I didn’t even mention exercising over the holidays. So I’ll leave you with this tasty tidbit of research. According to the National Institutes of Health, a half hour of moderate aerobic exercise, like brisk walking or a cardio-dance class, can reduce one’s risk of heart attack by as much as 50 percent. It also burns about 250 calories. Happy Holidays.

Mirabai Holland M.F.A. is a legendary fitness pioneer, one of the leading authorities in the Health & Fitness industry and a public health advocate who specializes in preventive and rehabilitative exercise for people. Her Moving Free® approach to exercise is designed to provide a movement experience so pleasant it doesn’t feel like work.

For More Information about Mirabai Holland please visit www.easyexercisevideos.com

 

Hundreds rush Queens Center mall for Black Friday shopping


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Melissa Chan.

There’s no time to nap for Fahad Azad.

The Black Friday shopper told The Courier he had been awake since 5 a.m., but still plans on spending the entire day hunting down good deals.

“We want to buy things,” he said. “This is the only day that we can get a big sale and where people can buy a lot of stuff. The electronic sales are way too good.

“These long lines are tiring, but it’s worth it,” he said, adding that he has already saved close to $100.

Like Azad, hundreds of eager, ambitious shoppers busted down the doors of Queens Center mall on Friday, November 25 at midnight with one thing in mind — sales, sales, sales.

“If you’re doing your entire Christmas shopping, and you’re spending close to a thousand dollars for the family, it’s definitely worth it to come out,” said Steven Steinerman.

He happily waited on an entire store-length long line to purchase a basketball on sale for $10, while his wife, Esther, took advantage of the “33 percent off any team item deal” at Modell’s.

“The long lines are a little bit inconvenient, but we’ll live through it,” Esther said. “The weather is nice, and I didn’t have to wake up at 5 in the morning to get a good deal.”