Tag Archives: New York Cares

Six ways to give back to Queens for Thanksgiving


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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BY PAULINA TAM

What are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving? Is it a roof over your head or daily hot meals? Use the Nov. 27 festivities to lend a helping hand by giving back to the community. Listed below are volunteer opportunities where you can participate.

1. The Daily News and City Harvest are collaborating this holiday season from Oct. 21 to Jan. 16 to collect nonperishable food and keep the local food pantries’ cupboards filled in their “Daily News Food Drive.” Their goal for this season is to raise 1 million pounds of food. Queens drop-off locations include the Steinway Goodwill Store at 32-36 Steinway St. and the Van Dam Outlet at 47-47 Van Dam St. Visit www.cityharvest.org/dailynews to find out more Queens locations.

2. Although volunteer opportunities by Food Bank NYC and New York Cares for the holiday season fill up fast, there are always vacant but competitive positions still up for grabs. Prepare dinner at a local pantry or go on food deliveries throughout Queens. Events are updated daily. Register on www.foodbanknyc.org or www.newyorkcares.org now to secure your holiday volunteer placement. Please note New York Cares does require new registrants to attend a one-hour orientation.

3. The New York City Department of Education annually partners up with Citymeals-on-Wheels for their handmade greeting cards. Schoolchildren are invited to break out their crayons and markers and craft a greeting card that will be handed out alongside a free meal for those homebound during the holiday season. In 2012 alone, 57,187 handmade holiday cards designed by children in private and public schools were distributed. Visit www.citymeals.org/food-for-thought/handmade-greeting-cards to learn more.

4. Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens have various ongoing food pantries happening in churches in Queens. Some of the churches include Our Lady of the Angelus at Rego Park and St. Rose of Lima at Far Rockaway. Pantry times and dates vary. Visit www.ccbq.org/what-we-do/parish-community-services to contact a church near to you to assist with any food distribution. Last year, over one million meals were handed out to over 115,000 people throughout Brooklyn and Queens.

5. Have a gently used coat that you no longer need that is just sitting in your closet? The 26th Annual New York Cares Coat Drive is kicking off on Nov. 17. Call your local Queens Library branch, NYPD and FDNY precincts to see if they are participating in the drive, and drop off a coat to help those in need keep warm this holiday season.

6. Nonprofit soup kitchen and food pantry Masbia of Rego Park will be handing out food to the hungry on Thanksgiving during their regular hours. Dining hours will be from 3 to 7:30 p.m. and the food pantry will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Packages of free food will be made available to guests after they are done with their hot meal during dinner service. Masbia is located at 98-08 Queens Blvd.

Visit www.foodpantries.org/ci/ny-queens or www.homelessshelterdirectory.org for a full listing of food pantries, soup kitchens and food banks active during Thanksgiving in Queens where you can volunteer and donate nonperishable food items. Pantry and kitchen times and dates vary. Call individual locations to find out appropriate times to line up for first-come, first-served food distribution.

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Artist, volunteers beautify pedestrian walkway that connects Woodside and Jackson Heights


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

One busy overpass filled with traffic from pedestrians, vehicles and bicycles has received a stroke of color.

The overpass’s pedestrian walkway, located at 37th Avenue and 69th Street, connecting Woodside and Jackson Heights, and above the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, was painted on Friday as part of the Department of Transportation’s Barrier Beautification program.

According to Emily Colasacco, director of the DOT Public Art Program, the site was chosen because recently one lane of traffic was transformed into a pedestrian safety area to connect the sidewalks on both sides of the overpass.

“The goal was to really beautify the space and call attention to this new pedestrian safety refuge,” Colasacco said. “We’re always looking for simple designs, bold colors and something that is really going to pop off the barrier, something noticeable from afar.”

Artist Eirini Linardaki, alongside volunteers from the organization New York Cares, worked from the morning into the afternoon painting the 150-foot concrete barrier of the walkway blue, red, yellow and white.

“It starts off as a concrete slab and by the end of the day it’s this beautiful mural,” Colasacco said.

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The painters implemented Linardaki’s design, called “Composition in blue, yellow and red – homage to Piet Mondrian,” which depicts the game of pick-up sticks.

“I just wanted to use a game, I wanted to use something that is fun and could be interpreted in so many ways,” said Linardaki, who has been involved in public art projects for the past five years in New York City, France and Greece. “You want to create involvement and awareness, you want to allow people to be in contact with art and there’s no better way than public art.”

Along with depicting what Linardaki called a “retro” game, she said she hopes for it to be seen as an abstract art or as a New York City grid.

“I like the fact that people don’t know that it’s here; people are going to discover it when they’re passing by,” Linardaki said. “I do a lot of public art projects, because first of all it’s so direct and sometimes it draws people’s attention to spots they were not going to look at. It gives them a different perspective of their city.”

Barrier Beautification projects are temporary and Linardaki’s piece will be up for one year. The DOT will then revisit the site and decide what other art pieces can be implemented.

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Cambria Heights high school scholar set to graduate in three years


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Rosmary Reyes

Follow me @liamlaguerre

While most high school students are happy to leave school when the bell rings, Rosmary Reyes takes extra classes, which sometimes keep her as late as 6 p.m.

Now that extra time is about to pay off.

Reyes, a student at Business, Computer Applications & Entrepreneurship High School in Cambria Heights, is set to graduate after just three years.

“I feel like as soon as I get out of high school, I can get into the real world and closer to my dream of being a lawyer,” Reyes said. “The faster the better.”

Reyes, 16, maintains a 91 percent average in school, is a member of Arista, the National Honor Society, and is in the running to be her school’s valedictorian or salutatorian. She speaks fluent Spanish, and also knows American Sign Language, which Reyes learned so she could communicate with her deaf cousins.

Besides her academics, Reyes participates in a great deal of extracurricular activities and volunteer work.

She is president of the school’s student government, editor of the yearbook, a member of the journalism and the recycling clubs, and she also tutors students who need help in specific subjects. Reyes volunteers at the annual high school fair for eighth-graders and the college fair.

Outside school, Reyes is a New York Cares team leader and has volunteered to help many causes, including working in a soup kitchen and taking part in a coat drive for a senior citizens home.

“It’s not just for academic achievement or looking better for my resume,” Reyes said. “I like [volunteering] because I want to do it. I like helping people and being in leadership roles.”

Even before high school, Reyes was an exceptional student. She received student of the month and student of the year awards from M.S. 61. Reyes pushes herself to do more, because of her philosophy to stay motivated.

“When you are tired and just want to give up, you should just stop for a moment and imagine what you can achieve if you try just a little bit more,” Reyes said.

But her ideals aside, Reyes recognized that she wouldn’t have been able to achieve all of her accomplishments without her family as a backbone of support.

“[I] give thanks to my parents for always giving me the resources I need, and my sister for always giving me the push I need to achieve my goals.”

Reyes is now waiting to hear from St. John’s University, where she plans to continue her education. She then wants to go to law school to become a civil litigator or human rights lawyer.

“I always found a true passion in it,” Reyes said. “The thing I like about lawyers is that they get to help people who may not be able to help themselves.”

 

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Queens pols hold coat drive with nonprofit New York Cares


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Councilmember Costa Constantinides' Office

With the winter still in full force, a group of elected officials are making sure those in need across the city are staying warm.

Together, Councilmember Costa Constantinides, Senator Michael Gianaris, and Assemblymembers Aravella Simotas and Michael DenDekker have collected a total of about 100 coats at their district offices for people in need across the city.

“It is important during this cold season that we provide help to those in need,” said Constantinides. “It’s an honor to work with a great organization like New York Cares. My colleagues in the state government and I look forward to collecting warm coats for those who need it most.”

The lightly-used winter coats were donated by members of the communities surrounding the district offices and the gathering of coats is in collaboration with the nonprofit New York Cares.

“Having recently experienced record low temperatures, I know we all appreciate the dangers freezing weather poses to our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Gianaris. “Let’s work together to keep our fellow New Yorkers warm this winter.”

 

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Howard Beach students play with US Open champs


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Dominick Totino

Sandy-affected Howard Beach students felt the love during a tennis clinic with US Open champions.

Twelve students from P.S. 207 went to Grandstand Stadium last week, where they participated in the United States Tennis Association (USTA) “Returning the Love” initiative.

Through the program, organized by New York Cares, the tennis tykes, ages five through nine, were able to play with stars like Andy Murray and meet Serena Williams.

“The kids were in awe that these major, major stars were taking the time to be with them,” said Stefanie Hanley, third grade teacher who accompanied the students. “They went through a lot during [Sandy].”

“They need to get back to smiling and get back to being kids again instead of worrying every time it rains.

They hear thunder and they get nervous,” she added.

P.S. 207, severely damaged by the storm, was closed for two months. During that time, students traveled to P.S. 232 in Lindenwood to go to school.

P.S. 232, which Hanley said is “already overcrowded,” doubled up on class sizes and averaged about 50 students per class while P.S. 207 was closed for repairs. Also, teachers’ supplies were “stuck” in the damaged building, and they were prohibited from getting them due to a hazardous oil smell throughout the site.

After reopening January 1, teachers and students have been trying to return to a sense of normalcy.

“It’s unbelievable that it’s almost a year now and they’re still going through this,” Hanley said. “[The students] have been through a lot.”

However, the tennis clinics put the smiles back on the students’ faces. They played doubles with reigning male champion Andy Murray and also hit the courts with Ana Ivanovic and Stanislas Wawrinka.

NBC’s “The Today Show” filmed a segment that same day, and the kids were able to watch a doubles match – Matt Lauer and Serena Williams versus Savannah Guthrie and Andy Murray.

“All of them want to play tennis now. They’re asking if we can have it in school,” Hanley said.

Hanley said that in her nine years as a teacher at P.S. 207, they have never been invited to “anything like this.”

“So many nice things have happened to these kids because of [Sandy] that really the good is outweighing the bad,” she said. “I think they’re ready to put everything behind them and start all over and really put their best foot forward.”

 

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Mets offer fans tickets, other rewards for participating in volunteer projects


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

BY LUKE TABET

The Mets are asking their fans to step up to the plate and help out their community.

The MLB team and volunteer organization New York Cares announced the launch of their new “Mets Volunteer Challenge,” Tuesday.

The program, which ends on September 1, allows fans and concerned New Yorkers to receive game tickets and other Mets-themed rewards for participating and completing volunteer projects.

The rewards are broken down into three tiers:

Home Run- volunteers who complete three to five projects will receive four tickets to a Mets game in September.

Grand Slam- volunteers who complete between six to eight projects will again receive four tickets to a game in September, and will also see their name on the scoreboard in recognition of their service.

Perfect Game- completing at least nine projects will gain volunteers four tickets, scoreboard recognition during the game, and the opportunity to participate in a pre-game ceremony on the field.

Fans interested in volunteering can register for the “Mets Volunteer Challenge” by visiting Mets.com/Volunteer.

 

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Santas streak through Astoria


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

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Ever wonder what Santa is wearing under his suit?

Residents of Astoria discovered the Christmas secret on December 3, when more than 100 streaking Santas raced around the neighborhood. The second annual Santa Streak, organized by Ran Craycraft, founder of the blog whyleaveastoria.com, was held this past weekend in order to gather coats for donation to New York Cares. The event, which began at Hellgate on the Park for a pre-streak party, lasted from noon to 4 p.m.

“This is a fun event that gets peoples’ attention and helps the less fortunate stay warm whenever it gets cold this winter,” said Craycraft, an Astoria resident. “We are big fans of New York Cares and we have done this event for two years now, but we’ve also had other coat drives. Three years ago we got about five coats, and now that we are doing something more risqué, we got about 200 coats this year. So this is a good way to get some attention and get more coats for the needy.”

Once the Santas were ready to brave the cold, the holiday mob marched around Astoria, visiting sections of Shore Drive and Ditmars and Astoria boulevards. The run lasted roughly a mile, after which the jolly old Saint Nicks’ re-commenced their party at a local bar.

According to Craycraft, participants were creative in preparing for the streak, displaying a wide spectrum of costume themes, ranging from more conservative tutus and leotards to men who were topless or wearing Christmas thongs.

“I don’t think we have any choice but to do this again next year,” he said. “People really like it. We have a great turnout and it is for a wonderful cause. It would be irresponsible not to do it again.”

Local official team up to help during Holiday Toy, Coat and Food Drive


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Councilmember James Gennaro

A joint effort across eastern Queens is attempting to provide children and their families with warm bodies, full stomachs and plenty of presents to open on Christmas.

Councilmember James Gennaro united with New York Cares service events manager Joseph Salas, Marine Corps Staff Sergeants Daniel Sweeney and David Bonney of the Sixth Communications Battalion and other community leaders on December 2 to initiate his annual Holiday Toy, Coat and Food Drive.

“It seems like this is the least we can do, particularly when times are very tough,” said Gennaro, whose drive will last through December 16. “We feel the people who give get more out of it than those who receive.”

During the event, the Marines delivered collection boxes for their Toys for Tots program to the councilmember’s office, where coats are also being gathered for donation to New York Cares.

“I’d like to thank the councilmember for his continued support,” said Salas. “We have partnered with the councilmember for quite a few years and to see the continued support is inspiring.”

Food is also being collected at Gennaro’s office, located at 185-10 Union Turnpike in Fresh Meadows, for donation to St. Nicholas of Tolentine Roman Catholic Church in Jamaica and the Samuel Field Y in Little Neck.

“Even in these very difficult and challenging times, it’s very comforting and reassuring to know our community is a responsive, caring community and our elected officials take a role in making sure needs are met,” said Steven Goodman, executive vice president of the Samuel Field Y.

Along with Gennaro’s office, donations can also be made at Senator Toby Ann Stavisky’s office, located 144-36 Willets Point Boulevard in Flushing, Assemblymember Rory Lancman’s office, at 159-16 Union Turnpike in Hillcrest, or the headquarters of Community Board 8, located at 197-15 Hillside Avenue in Hollis.