Local civic groups distribute gift cards at Fort Hamilton’s annual children’s holiday party
The Rotary Club of Verrazano, the Salaam Club of New York and the Bay Ridge Community Council (BRCC) joined forces to bring an extra bit of holiday cheer to the children of servicemen and women at the Fort Hamilton Army base in Bay Ridge.
More than 300 military children and their families attended the Fort Hamilton Children’s Holiday celebration on Friday night. The Fort Hamilton Sports and Fitness Center was all dressed up in holiday fashion, and looked like a winter wonderland with toys and gifts lining rows the of tables.
Service families enjoyed food, entertainment, a variety of arts and crafts and a special visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. Bay Ridge community groups and organizations donated gifts and prizes for the event.
The joint goodwill venture between the three civic groups provided $25 gift cards totaling $4,000. The project was spearheaded by community leader Ralph Succar, who is a board member of all three organizations, and currently serves as BRCC president.
The Rotary Club of Verrazano is one of more than 30,000 rotary clubs in 160 countries worldwide. They work to help feed the hungry, procure open-heart surgeries for children overseas and support a variety of local projects. Representatives from the Rotary at the event included Joe Speziale, the current president of the Rotary, and incoming President Enrico Ferrara.
Succar explained the Rotary Club’s motto is “Service Above Self.”
“That means it’s all about the service that we provide for others,” Succar said. “It’s not about us.”
Along with Succar, Salaam Club board member Adel Baghdady helped distribute gift cards on behalf of the organization.
The Salaam Club was founded 72 years ago by Lebanese and Syrian immigrants in Bay Ridge. It was formed in 1945 as a fraternity of men of Middle Eastern descent. In 1994, the Salaam Club Community Fund was established to benefit local organizations such as the Guild for Exceptional Children and the St. Nicholas Home, an interdenominational residence for elderly individuals in Bay Ridge. The group also helps raise funds for national charities including St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
The BRCC, an umbrella organization made up of more than 74 grassroots groups, was established in 1951 to promote the quality of life in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Fort Hamilton in Southwest Brooklyn.
Representing the BRCC were Jane Kelly, Rosanne Miller, Janet Gounis, Barbara Vellucci, Ilene Sacco, Linda Lupia, Ted General and Joanna Succar.
U.S. Army Colonel Peter Sicoli, commanding officer at Fort Hamilton, was at the celebration with his daughters Kate and Lauren. “I would like to say thank you to the Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights community because without their support and without their contributions this event could not happen,” Sicoli said. “So this is another great example of how great our partnership is with the community and we are very, very appreciative of all their efforts.”
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