Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Local 1500 Toy Drive Helps Hundreds of New York Families in Need

Union Rep. Stone Vargas with Shop Steward Carol Graziadio, from Stop and Shop 529

Since November, United Food and Commercial Local 1500 Members have been collecting and donating toys for families in need for the upcoming holiday season.  "We and our members love doing anything possible to help our communities," Secretary-Treasurer Tony Speelman said, "That's what being in a union is about, sticking together and helping our communities, that's the very fabric of our union." 

Nearly 1,000 toys were donated to the John Theissen Foundation, headquartered in Wantagh, NY.    Since 1992, the foundation has collected over 550,000 new toys and donate them to sick and underprivileged children in over 185 hospitals and child-care facilities across New York year round.

Additionally two Brooklyn ShopRite stores took part in a toy donation challenge.  The two stores competed since November on which could gather more toy donations.  The challenge ended earlier this week between ShopRite 289 and ShopRite 219, with 289 squeaking by with the win.  "The only real winners in this competition are the families receiving these gifts and both stores for doing an outstanding job collecting toys for families in need.  The competition was a fun little incentive for bragging rights, it was great to see everyone working for a greater good," said Rob Ecker, Union Rep.

We'd like to thank all of our outstanding members and Shop Stewards for taking the time this holiday season to give back to our communities.  Great work, you've made many families holiday season more enjoyable this year!

More on John Theissen:
My name is John Theissen. In 1992, I founded The John Theissen Children’s Foundation, a non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization. When I was 17 years old I was hospitalized for a brain tumor at a local children’s hospital. During my stay, my family and I befriended a seven-year old girl named Tasha. This little girl was in and out of the hospital throughout the year receiving different treatments for her illness. She received very little family support. She was dropped off and then picked up again when it was time to go home without having a visitor.
Hundreds of toys donated by UFCW

Tasha was very excited about a holiday party sponsored by the hospital staff and was expecting her family to attend. They unfortunately did not. I was still too ill but my family agreed to take her. When Santa asked her what she had wanted, Tasha replied, “ I would like a teddy bear for friend upstairs.” I felt fortunate to be that friend. Her positive attitude and generous spirit inspired me. When I got out off the hospital I wanted to help children just like Tasha.
In 1992, I held a toy drive during the holidays to benefit children in local hospitals. During the first toy drive, I collected over 800 hundred new toys in just two weeks and brought them to three different hospitals. Well that was the beginning of what has become a year round organization. Since 1992, we have collected over 550,000 new toys and donate them to sick and underprivileged children in over 185 hospitals and child-care facilities across Long Island year round. We also donate therapeutic and recreational equipment. Donations enabled us to fulfill wishes and help families with medical expenses. In 15 years, we have never said no to a child in need.

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