Sally Brody of Mastic says she knows no greater feeling than when her children open their gifts on Christmas morning and declare, “Mommy, this is exactly what I wanted.”
Thanks to a Hauppauge law firm’s annual toy giveaway on Sunday, Brody and more than 200 other Long Island families will provide Christmas joy this year without a strain on their household budgets.
Rent, car payments and a $500 home heating oil bill mean little is left over for Brody to buy gifts for her eight children who include 5-year-old and 7-year-old foster daughters.
“You want to come home with the gifts, but you don’t have it because you got to pay the bills,” said Brody, 45, who works as an aide to the developmentally disabled.
The event, sponsored by Ferro Kuba Mangano Sklyar PC and its Liga de Justicia legal clinic in Brentwood and now in its sixth year, will provide gifts to more than 600 children, said law firm managing partner William Ferro. An estimated $30,000 worth of new toys, games, books and clothes were available to the families, who were pre-screened through nonprofits such as Long Island Head Start, an early childhood nutrition and education program.
The holiday event can mean “everything” for an underserved family, said Ana Figueroa, volunteer coordinator for Long Island Head Start. “You have families who wouldn’t have anything under their tree, if they even have a tree, if it weren’t for an event like this," she said.
The rooms of the firm’s Veterans Highway headquarters were packed with name brand toys including Doc McStuffins playsets, Marvel superhero-themed Play Doh, a baby unicorn Fingerling, games such as Connect 4 and Checkers, and more. Parents selected four items per child while the small children posed for photos with Santa and were treated to a puppet show next door.
“It feels great to be able to give back to so many people,” Ferro said. “It really is incredible to me.”
Among the gifts Brody chose for her six younger children was a portable Disney princess playset and a fashion design kit she speculated the older girls would share.
Margarita Estrada, 24, and her husband Cesar, 26, of Riverhead, stealthily stowed a bag containing an Elsa doll and Star Wars action figures in their car for their 3-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son while the kids visited Santa. The event alleviated holiday stress for the couple, who survive on the money Cesar brings home as a drywall installer, they said.
“This is a lot,” Margarita Estrada said. “Christmas is a lot.”