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By Jennifer L. Warren
NEWBURGH – “It’s just like Christmas in July.”
Those are the words Waleska Ortiz used to describe last Tuesday’s Toy Giveaway Event, hosted by the Newburgh Armory Unity Center. Surrounded by six of her jubilant and overwhelmingly excited children, who were doing everything in their power to stay patient in line extending to the street, outside the Armory, the active City of Newburgh volunteer Ortiz, was quick to express her heartfelt gratitude for the premiere event.
“I found out about this on Facebook and immediately wanted to come out here with my children, so they could get toys,” said Ortiz, who is doing all she can to keep her kids active and engaged this summer. “Times are hard, so it’s just so very nice to have things available like this for children.”
Sponsored by the generous donations made by Toys for Tots, Good 360 and Newburgh-based, World of Giving, the Toy Giveaway allowed children chiefly up to the age of twelve (those over this age still welcome to take part, but limited supply of items geared to their age) to select two toys of their choice. Tables of toys were attractively displayed on tables throughout the perimeter of the Armory. Helpful volunteers assisted with the setup as well as providing key details on the toys to children and handing them over in exchange for a ticket should they want to take one of them home.
Squeezable, soft, cuddly toys, sporting grey and white or brown and black-hued combinations drew an impressive number of children over to their table. Colorful Frozen II action figures also proved to be another crowd pleaser. Pathfinder Adventure Card Games, Avenger Toys, Geologist Jr. and Friendship Wordwear were just some of the many other diverse top options bringing radiant smiles and unbridled laughter to children, as they carefully made their final choices.
In addition to the toys, children also were allowed to select an unlimited number of books over at a table overseen by two Cornerstone Family Healthcare volunteers. Jump ropes and toothbrushes further adorned the table, where blood pressure screenings were available to both parents and children.
Six year old Newburgh resident Gabby Cruz Garcia could be spotted exiting the Armory lovingly clutching her new, grey and white Feisty Pet animal and Frozen II dolls in one hand while securely holding onto her book selection titled, “When the Teacher isn’t Looking,” in the other. When asked which was her favorite, she took a long pause, surveyed her treasures, saying, “I can’t make up my mind; I like all three and am really excited to use all of them when I get home.”
Her twin sister, Isabella, revealing a slightly different selection: a brown and white-hued Feisty Pet and book titled, “Wild Animals,” was equally ecstatic, exclaiming, “I love both these things so much!”
Meanwhile, Newburgh 12 year old, Yael Perez, was holding onto the Friendship Word Wear box and stuffed husky figure he had unselfishly chosen for his sister with his two coupons. He was eager to present her with these two surprises, specially selected to match her personality and interests.
“It makes me happier to get something for her than me,” explained Perez about his altruistic gesture. “She’s really into creative stuff and likes dogs a lot.”
Christmas might technically be about five months away; however priceless pieces of its impact- filled with unselfish giving and unrivaled laughter- were undeniably being relished inside the Armory on a late, warm July afternoon.
“The Armory is a very, very special place,” said appreciative parent, Carla Johnson-Brodie, who came to the event with her seven year old daughter London. “They are always looking for ways to give back and help make the children’s lives better.”