NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. - Hope Community Services handed out close to 800 toys to New Rochelle children Thursday at its annual kids’ holiday party.
All of the gifts were given to Hope as donations.
“We’re very fortunate; we don’t have to purchase anything,” said Carole Troum, the executive director of Hope. “There really is widespread community support.” Troum mentioned New Rochelle schools and other local groups as regular donors.
“There are people who are connected to us and have been for a long time, and they know every year: ‘OK, it’s time to get the toys.’ We have some who do it over and over again, year after year after year,” she said.
The children who came to see Santa and pick up the games, sports equipment, dolls and smaller trinkets on their lists are from families who are clients of Hope’s bi-weekly food pantry.
Eight-year-old Alejandra Rosales came to the party for the first time.
“I’m happy and proud. Whatever they give me, I’ll like it,” she said.
The generosity this season is particularly notable considering the very recent dire need for emergency donations after Hurricane Sandy. Despite there being no electricity at the Hope headquarters that week, volunteers came together to give out 820 packs of groceries.
Just weeks later, Hope got close to 1,200 turkeys donated for Thanksgiving. And Friday night, December 21, there is a Christmas dinner at the soup kitchen with ham and sweet potatoes. Gifts of hats, scarves, gloves, and socks will also be given out.
“We have a lot of food during the holidays because people remember that there are poor people and want to help, but in February it’s pretty bleak over here,” Troum said. “The community is very kind and they do reach out and we do get donations, but it’s a struggle on an ongoing basis because the need here only continues to increase. It’s always a variable.”
Hope has been serving New Rochelle for 27 years. For more information on the soup kitchen and food pantry or how to get involved, please visit www.hopecommunityservices.org.