Thank you once again for your continued support through an extremely intense Holiday Season!
From Halloween through Martin Luther King Day, the Holiday rollercoaster period, was, as usual, the busiest time of our annual service calendar. The River Fund New York hosted multiple events for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Xmas—serving our communities from our main site in Richmond Hill and from our two mobile outreach locations in Coney Island (Brooklyn) and Rufus King Park (Jamaica, Queens). The season ended with our annual Shoes 4 Kids Giveaway—in partnership with Payless ShoeSource—which took place on January 15, 2012.
Here are some highlights:—
• For this year’s Halloween Saturday, we had a very special, new feature: A professional, Hollywood makeup artist delighted hundreds of kids by painting on their faces expertly rendered masks of each child’s favorite cartoon monster—while parents and guardians picked up, as usual, their weekly stock of groceries, produce, meat, vegetables, milk and other dairy products, as well as vitamins, clothes and even some traditional Halloween supplies of snacks and candy.
• October also saw a dramatic increase in our Food Stamp impact in the community: The River Fund was rewarded for its award-winning work, over the previous year and a half, as an official electronic Food Stamp enrollment site under the New York City Human Resources Administration. Starting in October, we became the very first “Enrollment Anchor Site” in Queens with 10 (yes, ten!) Referral Sites attached to us: Not bad for an organization staffed exclusively by volunteers! Not only does this greatly expand our income-support outcome in the community, our completely volunteer-based Food Stamp enrollment activity also helps significantly reduce government expenditure of taxpayer dollars on enrollment.
• At our Thanksgiving events, we hosted Feasts in our neediest locations, Coney Island and Rufus King Park, where hundreds of households joined us for a warm Turkey Luncheon—with all the trimmings. From our main site in Richmond Hill, we also shared Thanksgiving Dinner Kits, including Turkeys, to households totaling a whopping 3,218 beneficiaries—our biggest Turkey distribution in our 20-year history!
• Our three Xmas Holiday events featured Feasts, Giveaways of Groceries, Winterwear and, of course, TOYS, TOYS and more TOYS… Thousands of them… Over 10,000 individual gift items were distributed. Some 3,000 kids who braved the weather, and came with their parents to our locations, were personally greeted by our very own “Santa,” and received from him a cuddly stuffed animal before going on to select presents of their choice from our well-stocked tables. Forty-five volunteers were required to keep the gift-giving operation running smoothly alongside the regular grocery distribution process. For those of you who not only donated, but also helped out physically for the gift-giving days, please know that your support was absolutely invaluable.
• Shoes 4 Kids with Payless ShoeSource. Although 2011 was over, the Winter Season was not! One of the greatest areas of stress for needy families is the realization that their children have no suitable shoes for the severe winter weather. The River Fund strives to address this problem in our communities through our partnership with Payless ShoeSource. On January 15, 2012, underprivileged kids from our client population were able to select 128 pairs of FREE shoes at the local Payless ShoeSource—paid for primarily by coupons provided by the Payless Foundation. This is the second year that The River Fund New York has been able to make a difference in the lives of needy children in our communities. At 128 pairs, we were able to triple our impact from last year—but the need is still very great. With your help we can do more next year.
Once again, dear Friends, the work we do would be much harder to accomplish if we did not have your support. The need in our communities continues to rise. A January 11, 2012, report from The Food Bank for New York City indicates that the incidence of hunger has risen in our area by more than 35%—with the most dramatic rise, some 40%, among individuals who have a college degree. We at The River Fund New York have experienced an increase in numbers served from 101,000 individuals in 2010 to more than 139,000 in 2011—a 38% expansion in the demand for our services… and the numbers keep rising every week.
Without your help, we could not have managed to help these people. On behalf of all of them, we thank you very much. With your support, and the persistence of our volunteers, we will continue to make a difference.
To continue supporting our work, please review our current campaign at CONFRONTING HUNGER, HOMELESSNESS AND POVERTY.
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