Bay Ridge

Bay Ridge’s Third Avenue Merchants host annual holiday toy drive

December 14, 2017 By John Alexander Brooklyn Daily Eagle
From left: Joe Elhilow. Patrick Condren, Brian Chin, Rhea McCone and Nicole Malliotakis. Eagle photos by Arthur De Gaeta
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In the giving spirit of the season, Bay Ridge’s Merchants of Third Avenue held its annual holiday celebration and toy drive at Lobo Loco restaurant on Monday night.

Admission was free, though all those attending were asked to contribute one or more new unwrapped toys per person. Guests were able to enjoy complimentary food, wine, beer and nonalcoholic beverages.

HeartShare St. Vincent’s, a nonprofit agency that provides family and residential foster care, prevention services, adoption, mental health and medical services to children, youth and families, was the recipient of the more than 100 collected toys.  

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The event was hosted by Mario Abitino, owner of Lobo Loco. Attorney and Merchants President Robert Howe served as master of ceremonies. “We celebrated another successful year on Third, as we have been doing for the last 20 years collecting toys for the needy families and children of Brooklyn,” said Howe. “This year we chose HeartShare St. Vincent’s because of the incredible work they do with children who are in the foster care system.” 

Among the elected officials attending were state Sen. Marty Golden, Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis and City Councilmember Vincent Gentile.

Community leaders present included Northfield Bank Branch Manager and Vice President Brian Chin; Right at Home Health Care Services owner Walter Ochoa; attorneys Wade Jabour and Joe Elhilow, Ralph Succar of Empire State Development, William Guarinello; and art educator and HeartShare CEO and President Leigh Holliday Brannan.

Speakers at the event included Ken Nolan, chairman of HeartShare St. Vincent’s and Dawn Saffayeh, executive director at HeartShare St. Vincent’s.

The Merchants of Third Avenue, a group representing store owners on the avenue between 67th and 95th streets, has been conducting holiday toy drives for more than 20 years. Members include Vice President Joseph Sessa, Second Vice President Wade Jabour, Executive Secretary Chuck Otey, Corresponding Secretary Rhea McCone, Secretary Lloyd Berg and Treasurer Brian Chin.

“The Merchants of Third Avenue holiday party is a great annual event,” Chin said. “The organization we did a toy drive for is HeartShare St. Vincent’s. This will help make a deserving child happier during this holiday season. Fellow merchants laughed and networked with each other. The lights are up along Third Avenue and everyone is into the holiday festivities. A great and fun-filled night.”

Since its founding in 1869, HeartShare St. Vincent’s has been responding to the needs of the community.

“We are fortunate to have the ongoing support of community organizations and individuals who give an extraordinary number of gifts each year. However, the need is always great,” explained Danielle Maurice, HeartShare director of special events. “HeartShare currently serves over 34,000 children, adults and families throughout New York City.”

For their generosity, those attending the holiday celebration and toy drive received gift cards toward future dining at Lobo Loco.


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