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Retired NYPD Officer Hosts 40th Annual Children’s Christmas Benefit Toy Drive

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Retired NYPD Officer Hosts 40th Annual Children’s Christmas Benefit Toy Drive

Proceeds Support Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens’ Santa’s Toy Shop for Families in Need


Don Costello, retired NYPD officer, hosted the 40th Annual Children’s Christmas Benefit on Saturday, December 10, at St. Gregory the Great Catholic Academy in Queens, which supports Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens’ toy distribution to help families in need during the Christmas season.

“Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens is extremely grateful to Don Costello who continues to generously donate hundreds of toys collected at his Christmas party for our annual toy distributions,” said Richard Slizeski, Senior Vice President for Mission, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens. “This year families are struggling with inflation, increased food insecurity, and the rise in gas prices, putting an additional strain on households during the holiday season. Buying a toy for a child during this time makes it that much more difficult. We appreciate Don’s support and so do the families we serve.”

The Children’s Christmas Benefit follows a 40-year tradition of collecting new unwrapped toys for children whose families are struggling to make ends meet and was inspired while Don was a rookie police officer on the job responding to a burglary at a Brooklyn apartment.

When he arrived, Don found a distraught bus driver who, after arriving home found all the toys for his 5-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter were stolen. Recently divorced, the dad was looking forward to having Santa deliver presents for his children, but he had no money to replace the toys. Don jumped into action, went on a shopping spree, used his credit card and bought race cars, dolls and games. Later, he went back to the apartment to deliver the toys, telling the father that all the officers from the precinct and a local charity pitched in to help his family. The father, brought to tears, was very appreciative and Don, who found the gesture rewarding, was hooked.

“I felt really bad for the guy. I just had to do something,” Costello recalled. A few days later, a friend was throwing their annual Christmas party and instead of bringing your own drink he suggested a toy for a child in need. He then reached out to Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, beneficiaries of the donated toys who distributed them to children in need.

Today, with the generous support of Don Costello and the Children’s Christmas Benefit, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens distributes these and other donated gifts during Santa’s Toy Shop, an annual toy distribution where parents are paired with a volunteer Personal Elf Shopper who assists them in choosing the right gift for their children. For more information on upcoming toy distributions, please visit www.ccbq.org/events.

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