On the Avenue: Ben-Bay Kiwanis Club salutes its ‘Holiday Heroes’
Let’s hear it for our holiday heroes!
Several members of the Kiwanis Club of Bensonhurst & Bay Ridge were recognized during the club’s annual Christmas party held “on the avenue” at Casa Belvedere, 79 Howard Ave., for their good deeds during the holiday season.
The annual affair allows for members of Ben-Bay Kiwanis to enjoy an evening of fine dining while reflecting upon a year filled with giving back to children and families in need. Kiwanians raise and distribute tens of thousands of dollars to local families and organizations each year.
At the Dec. 19 Christmas party, five members of Ben-Bay Kiwanis were presented with special certificates recognizing them as “Holiday Heroes” for 2022.
“We wanted to be able to say thank you to certain members who always go above and beyond during the holiday season to make the holidays brighter for those who need it most,” explained Club President Brian Long. “These individuals take the lead on such events as our annual toy drive, our children’s Christmas party and the Little North Pole event that raises tens of thousands of dollars for juvenile diabetes research.”
Long himself was a surprise honoree for organizing the club’s annual Thanksgiving food drive benefiting the families of St. Athanasius parish. He was honored alongside board members Joseph Mure Jr., William Basso, Anthony Pennachio and Albert C. Corhan.
Mure has been hosting the Little North Pole event at his Neponsit Beach home for the past 27 years. The all-day extravaganza has become a staple of the community and attracts widespread media attention each year. This past year, legendary actor and musician Steven Van Zandt flipped the switch to light Mure’s expansive home and grounds. Co-hosts Sid Rosenberg and Todd Wharton joined emcee Joe Causi in rallying the huge crowd of attendees to donate to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Santa Claus himself arrived via helicopter and made sure that every child in attendance received a toy for the holidays.
“What Joe does for the community and for those who suffer from juvenile diabetes is incredible,” Long said. “No one has done more to benefit this cause — or for longer — than Joe Mure. We are proud to recognize him as a ‘holiday hero’ this year.”
Basso has organized the club’s children’s Christmas party for many years. The event features costumed characters, face painting, arts and crafts and other activities for children to enjoy while also ensuring that each child in attendance receives a brand new wrapped toy from Santa. This year’s party took place “on the avenue” at Il Centro, 8711 18th Ave., and drew a large crowd of appreciative families.
“The annual children’s Christmas party is a very special event that allows families to come and enjoy a day full of activities and a visit with Santa Claus courtesy of the club,” Long said. “Willy took this event on many years ago and always does a tremendous job to make sure that it runs smoothly, and that each child goes home happy.”
Pennachio made sure that the club’s contribution to the holiday toy drive organized by the Minority Women Business Association and St. George Theatre was impactful, as he personally picked out more than $2,500 worth of brand new toys to be distributed to needy families. Dozens of boxes filled with toys were then delivered to St. George on Dec. 16 to benefit the Seamen’s Society for Children and Families, Community Health Action of Staten Island, Uncle Chase and Project Hospitality.
“When Ben-Bay Kiwanis decided to partner with MWBA and St. George to contribute to their holiday toy drive, Anthony stepped up and made sure that every dollar raised was spent on the best toys possible,” Long said. “We salute him for taking action and delivering for so many local families.”
Corhan serves as director of academy operations at Adelphi Academy of Brooklyn, which also donated 15 giant bags of toys to the MWBA and St. George toy drive. He was recognized in particular for organizing the club Christmas party each year.
“There are a million little details that go into planning our club party each year — from venue to menu — and Al makes sure it all runs smoothly so our members and guests can come and enjoy the holidays together as we prepare for another year of giving back,” Long said.
Long himself has been organizing the club’s Thanksgiving food drive and making a direct impact on families in need within St. Athanasius parish for many years. Club Vice President Scott Palma wanted to make sure he was recognized at the Dec. 19 event.
“When it comes to holiday heroes, it starts at the top with Brian,” Palma said. “He has run the food drive for St. Athanasius for so long and has made the holidays better for so many families. He deserves to be recognized alongside our other outstanding members.”
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