New York Daily News

December 22, 2012


 

Gifts of hope: Far Rockaway's Hurricane Sandy victims get toys, clothes


At the Church of the Nazarene on Central Ave. in Far Rockaway, families lined up around the block for a chance to take home warm clothes and toys being donated by big-hearted volunteers.

By Clare Trapassso AND Ben Chapman / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Cop Frank Macri, seen with wife Nilda, died from cancer in 2007 after working on Ground Zero site.
CHRISTIE M FARRIELLA FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Cianna Montgomery tells Santa what she wants for Christmas during holiday event in Far Rockaway.

With the winter holidays approaching, citizen volunteers brought desperately needed good cheer Saturday — and warm clothing — to needy residents of the storm-ravaged Rockaways.

At the Church of the Nazarene on Central Ave. in Far Rockaway, families lined up around the block for a chance to take home warm clothes and toys being donated by big-hearted volunteers.

Basketballs, Barbie dolls and stuffed NYPD patrol cars were just some of the items overflowing from boxes and bags in the church parking lot.

"It's putting a smile on everyone's faces and putting back what we lost," said Gabrielle Guillaume, 33, a stay-at-home mom from Far Rockaway who lives with her six kids.

Cop Frank Macri, seen with wife Nilda, died from cancer in 2007 after working on Ground Zero site.
CHRISTIE M FARRIELLA FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

PBA President Pat Lynch unloads donated toys at a Christmas toy giveaway at the Community Church of Nazerene on Central Avenue in Far Rockaway, Saturday, December 22, 2012.

For Guillaume, the toys and coats handed out by volunteers from the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and the clothing company Uniqlo were a blessing.

She said her family lost almost all of its belongings because of the mold that took over after Hurricane Sandy.

“I have to take all the clothes and replace them,” Guillaume said. “We need to see smiles on the children’s faces through Christmas, so we don’t feel bad that we stayed through the hurricane.”

Josette Hibbert, 40, an unemployed sales rep from Far Rockaway, came to the church to pick up some Christmas gifts for her two sons, ages 16 and 10.

Many of Hibbert’s belongings were stolen by looters after her family followed orders for the mandatory evacuation of their apartment, she said.

“It’s helping me to put more gifts under the tree for my sons, because we’re going through a hard time,” said Hibbert, who walked away with new coats for her boys.

Cop Frank Macri, seen with wife Nilda, died from cancer in 2007 after working on Ground Zero site.
CHRISTIE M FARRIELLA FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

PBA President Pat Lynch unloads donated toys at a Christmas toy giveaway at the Community Church of Nazerene on Central Avenue in Far Rockaway, Saturday, December 22, 2012.

Sileola Joju, 36, said the ground-floor apartment where she lives with her husband, 4-year-old daughter and infant was flooded. The family lost clothing and furniture.

“We’ll take whatever we can get,” she said.

Families also gathered at the Sorrentino Recreation Center, a city parks department community center, for “Everything Day.”

The event was a celebration of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas for families that may have missed the holidays because of Sandy.

Martine Faustin, 32, said everything in her basement, which is also the kids’ playroom, was destroyed in the storm.

“All their toys are gone — no TV no video games,” she said. “We lost a lot.”

Single mom Stephany Nesbitt, 42, was there with three of her six kids. She lost her car — and normalcy — in Hurricane Sandy.

“I’m still in Sandy mode,” she said. “I didn’t realize Christmas was next week. . . . I’m thankful for this type of stuff because I wouldn’t want my children to miss out.”

bchapman@nydailynews.com