(UNIONDALE and GLEN COVE, N.Y.) - Thousands of donors streamed through the parking lot of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum to support a drive-through Toys for Tots drive on Sunday, Dec. 6 - shattering one-day donation records as Nassau County residents stepped up to address the tremendous need created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 10th anniversary drive was spearheaded by Glen Cove businessmen Joe LaPadula and Jon Holzer of Martino Auto Concepts. Confronted with the realities of the pandemic, the event, which typically evokes the feel of an island-wide block party and exotic car showcase, was dramatically overhauled as a drive-thru collection event to protect donors and volunteers.
While the event may have been pared down because of the pandemic, the philanthropic spirit of the event only grew and blossomed - just when it was needed the most.
“During the last 10 years, Joe LaPadula and Jon Holzer have brightened the lives of so many deserving children and families during the holiday season. However, when they were confronted with their most daunting mission yet, they rose to the occasion and marshaled an awe-inspiring display of generosity,” Legislator DeRiggi-Whitton said. “I will be forever grateful to John and Joe for their tireless efforts, and to every donor who contributed in support of this herculean task. Every donation is a beacon of hope for brighter days ahead, and this outpouring of support shows just how blessed we are to live in such a generous, giving place in the world.”
Nassau County Police Department officers, under the command of NCPD Commissioner Patrick Ryder, kept donation lines moving briskly as a team of uniformed Marines worked under the direction of USMC Major (Ret.) Chuck Kilbride and alongside community volunteers to collect and sort donations. Key supporters of this year’s drive included: The Experience Auto Group, the Nassau County Police Department, the U.S. Marine Corps, the American Academy of Hospitality Services, Gabrielli Truck Sales, UPS, the First City Project, an array of automotive clubs, and many more community stakeholders.
Legislator DeRiggi-Whitton thanked Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and her administration for serving as an invaluable resource in developing public health and safety protocols for the event. County Executive Curran and her team also served as an emissary between local organizers and Governor Cuomo’s office, aiding their efforts to secure permissions to conduct the drive-thru toy drive.
If you weren’t able to attend this drive-thru toy drive, there’s still plenty of time to support Toys for Tots this holiday season. Visit toysfortots.org to find a drop-off location near you or to make a monetary donation.
PHOTO CREDITS - Photos by Peter M. Budraitis