The annual "Just One Gift" campaign in December at Children of the City in Brooklyn, New York is when hundreds of children who are at-risk gather to receive encouragement and a new gift. People from New York and around the country open up their hearts and generously donate toys to bring a smile to many a young person's face. Here's why.
In Brooklyn alone there are 17 thousand cases of child abuse with a 48 percent high school drop out rate. Of about 30 thousand students, 15 thousand are dropouts. One out of every three families lives below the poverty line. Some kids even have to wear sandals in the wintertime. There are drugs, disease, gang violence and crime, along with about a thousand deaths annually. Four years ago Rocco Basile was seeking volunteer his time to a charity that helps children in need and decided to join the Board of this organization to help do something about these statistics.
Why? Because the problems were happening right in his own back yard in Sunset Park. The charity work that this wonderful charitable foundation did was a perfect fit for Rocco Basile. "There are hundreds of people in need of intervention, children in need of education as well as families in need of counseling. Our motivational quote is that Children of the City is an organization making a difference," said Basile.
However this year, the annual toy drive ran into an unforeseen obstacle course when scheduling problems caused a benefactor to push back the delivery date on a pledge for 300 toys. This year's toy drive had secured many donations and so they had organized events for gift wrapping. Most of the toys were scheduled to arrive by a certain day, when a dozen volunteers from NYCares were supposed to help wrap the toys. It was carefully planned so that each volunteer would have plenty to do.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans. Stormy clouds and snow, sleet and rain hit the tri-states causing delays. Not even half of the deliveries made it to the charity's headquarters in time for the events. Sixty willing and able gift wrappers from Volunteer NYC, Old Navy, and several high school students, patiently waited for the toys. Just in time Rocco Basile's family car pulled up like Santa's sleigh with a numbger of hot toys and 12 Razor scooters purchased by the Basile Builder's Group business associates,family and friends. Rocco Basile spent the prior weeks soliciting toys from anyone who would listen.
Volunteers were very excited as they got busy wrapping Hannah Montana, Barbie and Bratz dolls who would be distributed to the children fortunate enough to receive the gifts. More than eight companies and organizations gave toys, while there were 89 people volunteering to wrap gifts over a three day period. A total of 890 new toys were donated, and there were 100 bags of assorted groceries to distribute to those in need.
In all, 400 children ages 4-15 attended the annual Christmas event with 76 volunteers including visitors from Ohio and Virginia. The children learned at the event that gifts are not just items purchased with money for charity donations. They were encouraged with motivational sayings to see themselves and their unique talents, abilities, time, and acts of service as gifts to the ones they love and to the world. They were also encouraged to forge ahead amidst their many challenges; to believe in themselves and to make the right choices to positively affect their lives and their community.
Kristin Gabriel has been writing about non-profits for over 20 years and has taken an interest in the work being done by Children of the City and the Joe DiMaggio Committee for Xaverian High School and their Board Member Rocco Basile, of Basile Builders Group.