Everyone deserves a sweet holiday, which is what led several neighbors to help bake and decorate dozens of cookies this week for an annual party that gives homeless children in New York City a reason to celebrate.
Each year the Coalition for the Homeless hosts a party for nearly 150 children, and for this year’s event — which is taking place on Saturday, December 12 — Manhattanite Christy Burke, a longtime supporter of the organization and a mother herself, decided to make the day even more fun for all those who’ll attend.
“The plan was to make this happy occasion even more awesome by giving the kids home-baked holiday cookies and warm scarves — one scarf for themselves and another to give as a gift,” she says.
When she put the call out to friends for help, Ditmas Park resident Nicole Francis volunteered to be in charge of about half of the 40 dozen cookies that needed baking, decorating, and bagging. Enlisting neighbors young and old to join in the task, her house was filled with an cookie-baking army on Thursday night.
“Christy’s passion for this cause knows no bounds — it’s infectious,” said Francis. “Homelessness is not a fun issue, but if you can make it fun for some people for a day, hopefully they can carry that with them and build on it.”
For the two dozen people who stopped by Francis’ house to help out (this reporter included), the event provided an opportunity to give back and reflect — and it had a particular impact on the children who assisted.
“It was so nice to hear the kids asking who we were making these cookies for,” said Joe Famiglietti, who manned the oven as more than 200 cookies passed through it. “They said, ‘There are kids that don’t have a home?’ And you could see that it got through to them.”
“You have to put it in perspective,” said Francis. “Most of the kids we know could have a plethora of food and gifts. If you had a Chirstmas where your parents struggled to give you one gift, honestly, I cant imagine what that would be like.”
The so-called “Cookie-Palooza” at Francis’ house was one of several that’s taking place around the city, along with events where volunteers are wrapping scarves as well. All told, Burke says there will be 450 cookies baked and 300 scarves — many of which were donated or sold at a discount by local merchants — wrapped, and even more volunteers will be on hand at the party to decorate the Christmas tree and stuff the kids’ goodie bags.
“Our hope is that our efforts will bring joy to these children by way of delicious cookies, colorful scarves, and the experience of giving a gift to someone they love,” Burke says.
If you’re interested in helping out, you can make a donation online.