It's that time of year again when Westchester County asks the public and local businesses to open their hearts and make donations to help Westchester children during the holiday season.
This is the ninth year of the Westchester County Holiday Gift Drive, which provides presents to children in the care of the Department of Social Services. These children are in residential facilities, foster homes and in temporary homeless shelters with their families waiting permanent housing.
Five students from Eastchester High School have already done their part – and County Executive Robert P. Astorino thanked them and their teachers on Tuesday.
The county executive accepted $3,000 in gift cards from seniors Carina Martesevici, Marie Cascione, Arlette Maher, Roisin Wiley and sophomore Ryan Winnie, as well as their faculty advisors Ellen Eldred and Edye Caine. Each year the senior class organizes an annual fair that raises money for charities that support children. This year they selected the county's holiday drive to be the beneficiary of the effort.
Astorino said there is an added element to the holiday gift drive this season: the devastation from Hurricane Sandy.
"With many Westchester families being displaced by Sandy, we have even more children in need," Astorino said. "Through this gift drive, we can at least ensure that they are given something on the holiday. I thank the Eastchester students for what they have already done and encourage all of our residents and businesses to consider a donation."
They were joined in Astorino's office by County Legislator Sheila Marcotte, who represents Eastchester.
Last year, the program collected almost $12,000 in gift cards and thousands of dollars in toys, clothes and electronics.
Commissioner of Social Services Kevin McGuire said of the program: "It warms my heart when I see my staff and the county government as a whole come together to donate to help children have a nice holiday."
Collection bins for unwrapped presents will be placed in the following county buildings:
- Michaelian Office Building, 148 Martine Ave., White Plains
- Department of Social Services Central Office, 112 E. Post Road, White Plains
- Department of Social Services Yonkers District Office, 131 Warburton Ave., Yonkers
In addition, gifts may be dropped off at the offices of WFAS radio, 365 Secor Road, Hartsdale.
The program makes a special appeal for gift cards and cash contributions, so that gifts can be matched with the wish lists of the recipients.