Recently, Sam Schneider, the manager of the Starbucks on Route 59 and Airmont Road, approached Rockland resident and entrepreneur Dean Klein of Closeouts and Collectibles, a regular. Would he contribute some toys to the corporation’s Starlight Starbright Foundation’s holiday gift drive? The national foundation distributes toys around the holiday season, and usually collects them in bins at the local caf?s.
Klein said no problem and started bringing in thousands of toys for children ranging in age from 6 months to 6 years old. Schneider was astonished at the number and sent an SOS to past Jewish War Veterans Commander Bill Farber of Post Pfc. Fred Hecht in Rockland County. Farber, a World War II vet, is known to be a master networker. Schneider asked him to scrounge up warehouse space where the toys could be sorted, repacked in new cartons, and distributed regionally.
Farber enlisted post member Hal Rubinstein, the cell phone distributor on Route 59, to donate the space. Then he asked Ed Dolan, the police chief of Ramapo, to lend him the police bus and a driver to take the first load of 6,000 toys from Klein’s space to Rubinstein’s. They started with ‘5 cardboard boxes donated by Starbucks, and then Farber asked Shiffenhaus Packaging Corp. in Ramapo if he could have some cartons. He got more than 300 clean new boxes.
Working in the warehouse for eight days, as long as it took for the miracle of Chanukah to happen, the JWV Post members and its Ladies Auxiliary sorted and repacked the toys. There were more than 14,000 brand-new toys to give away to an area stretching across the Hudson from Poughkeepsie to Hackensack. Starbucks delivered 6,950 toys to its own foundation for distribution, and decided that patients in pediatric hospitals should benefit, too. But there was still a surplus, and the JWV was left with more than 8,000 toys to distribute.
The Rotary Club and the Ramapo Knights of Pythias made deliveries to the Salvation Army and other local groups. Other groups, including municipal and county services, came to the warehouse to pick up gifts to bring smiles to young faces this season. Among the recipients were People to People, Bikur Cholim of Rockland, Rockland Community Development Council; the West Street Day Center, Martin Luther King Center in Spring Valley; the local women’s shelter; and the pediatric departments of Nyack Hospital and Good Samaritan Hospital.
Farber and Commander Phil Sieradski of JWV Post 498 covering Teaneck and the Northern Valley personally made the very last special delivery and hauled 800 toys to the Tomorrows Children Fund at the Don Imus WFAN Pediatric Center at Hackensack Medical Center in Hackensack.