Editor's Note: Thank you to Jennifer Gallozzi for submitting the following letter.
Christmas, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, had special meaning this year. Folks were bubbling over with enthusiasm for the season and for the opportunity to comfort fellow Long Islanders by sharing their time at our ”Island of Misfit Toys" to make sure Santa’s sleigh was even fuller than in past years.
Nothing could break their helping hands spirit. The day of the drive we were all locked out in the cold for 1 ½ hours. No one left or even complained. They assured me they wouldn’t leave alone me or let the kids down. We kept each other warm, as the toys piled up all around the hall. Then, the doors finally opened! The foster grandparents spoiled the child helpers with their hospitality table of goodies and drinks. Moms, dads and kids of all ages worked vigorously to make up for the time we lost waiting in the cold, till, every last used Barbie had a new “do," teddy had a fresh bow, all clothes were sorted and repackaged to look like they came from an upscale store, and every last candy cane and ribbon was lovingly tied to each package. There were bicycles, organs, scooters etc. One would have to look closely to see which were the new and which were the "like new" toys were!
Next, the folks poured in to get toys for their kids…long lists were filled by elves from our local communities. The next day, organizations cheerfully marched in to fill cars and vans for 20 local Long Island charities... Now, the Gallozzi crew stepped in to finish the job. Santa’s sleigh was repeatedly loaded and unloaded all month long as Mr and Mrs. Claus and their elves, known to you as Jennifer, Robert Gallozzi and their 3 daughters Jaime, Jodie and Jannah visited woman’s shelters where their hearts ached for the ladies and their children, but they kept a brave front as they distributed your gifts. Head starts were visited, house calls were made and they even had time for a Helping Hands caroling party to give some children a very special memory of the season. Please let me share our beautiful Helping Hands Christmas with all of you who help our children, not just around the holidays but all year round where giving matters most.