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In Patchogue, filling holiday wishes for hundreds

In the small Patchogue office that houses Thursday’s Child, a group that provides services for people with HIV/AIDS, program manager Greg Noone was looking a little frazzled - albeit smiling.

Sitting in front of his desk, the mother of a 17-year-old held up a pair of children’s jeans.

“These are not going to fit her,” she said. “Maybe one leg.”

Noone apologized for the mistake and presented the woman with a $50 gift card to Walmart. He told her to make sure she got her daughter a new pair of jeans for Christmas.

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Just like Santa Claus magically pulling gifts out of a bottomless red bag, Noone has fielded request after request from families that can’t afford to buy gifts for their children all week and never said no. And that’s after he already had a list of 375 children that Thursday’s Child and its partnering organizations were supporting.

“I had seven or eight walk-ins this week,” he said, and in total Thursday’s Child is helping supply presents for more than 400 children across Long Island this Christmas, all of them living with a family member who has HIV/AIDS.

Running the program alongside Thursday’s Child is the Patchogue-based group Blue Angels, founded by Dave Chiarella, Noone said. Blue Angels raises all the money and does all the shopping to get each child on the Thursday’s Child list everything they’ve asked for.

Thursday’s Child works with like organizations around the Island, including Options for Community Living, Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk, Long Island Association for AIDS Care and Concern for Independent Living, to compile a list of families in need and each child gets to send in his or her own wish list.

On Thursday, Noone said the storage room at the United Methodist Church was looking relatively organized, as bags piled on top of bags filled the room. Each bag had a number attached to it, each number represented a family, to protect their privacy.

There were dolls, clothes, electronic toys and gift cards. Noone said the Blue Angels go above and beyond, purchasing hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise for each family.

“It’s an extraordinary amount of generosity,” he said.

All that was left was the delivery, Noone said, as he walked out the door of his office Thursday evening, his car full of presents, which - like another busy gift-giver - they would be finishing well through Christmas Eve. 

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