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2019 Holiday Drive Wrap-Up

At Volunteers of America-Greater New York, the holiday season is an opportunity to bring hope and a sense of normalcy to the individuals and families living in our shelters and residential programs.

Through Holiday Gifts of the Heart, we make sure each child will get to experience the excitement of unwrapping presents, while providing parents with a sense of relief that their child will not go without. For older adults and veterans, especially those without family or close friends, a heartfelt gift reminds them that they are not alone.

For all of this work, we rely on the support of generous partners and this year your response was incredible! We are so grateful to the many corporate and community partners who helped collect, wrap, and prepare more than 4,500 gifts for our neighbors in need. Here are some of the highlights:

  • 1,200 children received gifts this year through Toys for the Holidays and most - especially those living in our shelters - got two to three gifts each!

  • 1,400 adults received gifts through Burt and Barbara's Gifts of the Heart, including formerly homeless veterans and all 92 seniors at our East 12th Street residence who were given new, cozy pajamas. The response to our call for more participants in this drive was fantastic!

Thank you to all of our standout partners!

  • Pepsi-Cola Bottling of New York hosted a Winter Wonderland themed party at one of our family shelters in the Bronx, complete with arts and crafts, games, face painting, and a full dinner. The volunteers also wrapped every new toy for the children at that shelter, donated through Toys for the Holidays.

  • Murex fulfilled children's wishlists to Santa from two of our family shelters, bought brand new winter coats for 125 children, and made a corporate donation through the manufacturer Bombas for 500 new pairs of socks for adults!

  • Prologis raised funds to support our Holiday Gifts of the Heart drives at their New Jersey office and collected gifts and gift cards for young adults in our Youth Services programs who are aging out of foster care.

  • Walgreens Boots Alliance made a financial donation to Volunteers of America-Greater New York in honor of their annual "Give Back Day" and sent a large group to volunteer at our Holiday Drive Sort Week. The team sorted and wrapped gifts, and helped organize and load the gifts for delivery to our programs.

  • The Weeks Lerman Group catered a full Thanksgiving and Christmas luncheon for the veterans living at our residence in East Harlem. They also donated personalized holiday gift bags for every resident.

  • Marubeni Corporation collected gifts for children through Toys for the Holidays, and raised funds in their office to support the drive.

  • Steve Madden donated hundreds of handbags that were given to mothers and guardians at our domestic violence and women's shelters.

  • New York Life collected gifts for seniors and veterans in our residential programs through Burt and Barbara’s Gifts of the Heart, and — for the third year in a row — filled 800 stockings with snacks and small toys for children. The New York Life Foundation awards grants to their community partners based on number of hours volunteered, and will donate to VOA-GNY.

  • American Century Investments answered "Dear Santa" letters from nearly all of the children at one of our family shelters in the Bronx, and set up a GoFundMe team to raise additional funds for that same shelter for the holidays.

  • FedEx donated their services, as they do for Operation Backpack®, to pick up gifts from locations across New York City that collected 50 or more presents through Holiday Gifts of the Heart. They picked up from 18 locations this year.

We want to emphasize our immense gratitude to all of the partners who made contributions to Holiday Gifts of the Heart this year, and as a result, helped brighten the holiday season for men, women and children in need.