Hundreds donated to 9th annual Holiday Gift Drive

Gift Drive 2019 - VA Hospital

Nineteen schools, several senior and civic organizations, and hundreds of local residents contributed to Assemblyman Ed Braunstein’s 9th annual Holiday Gift Drive for veterans and hospitalized children.

Generous community members donated thousands of new toys and hundreds of items for vets, such as new clothing, candy, toiletries and puzzles.

“It is very heartwarming to witness the amazing generosity of northeast Queens residents who have continued to bring holiday cheer to those in need year after year,” Braunstein said.

“I would like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to our community and our local schools for making these gift drivers such a success.”

Gift Drive 2019 - Belt Family Santa

The following institutions and/or charitable programs received toys:

  • 4 Kids in Need drive for homeless families
  • QSAC Day School of Whitestone
  • QSAC Preschool & Early Childhood Center of Douglaston
  • Queens Chronicle’s 25th annual toy drive
  • Ronald McDonald House
  • Sacred Heart Church Toy Drive
  • St. Mary’s Hospital for Children
  • Transition Domestic Violence Center
  • United States Army for children of deployed military personnel from Fort Totten and other reserve bases

These schools and community organizations contributed to the drive:

  • Bayside Village Business Improvement District
  • Beech Hills Shareholders
  • Benjamin N. Cardozo High School
  • Bridge View Nursing Home
  • Deepdale CARES NORC
  • Friends of Fort Totten Parks
  • Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association
  • Holy Trinity Catholic Academy
  • IS 25
  • Jefferson Democratic Club
  • MS 158
  • MS 294
  • PS 32
  • PS 41
  • PS 98
  • PS 107
  • PS 115
  • PS 159
  • PS 169
  • PS 184
  • PS 203
  • PS 209
  • PS 221
  • PS 811
  • Queens Public Library at Bayside
  • Queensboro Hill Community Church
  • The Summit School Upper School
  • Vincent’s Opticians
  • The William Spyropoulos Greek-American Day School.


Whitestone street to be co-named for WWII veteran

Cpl John Hchugh

It’s official: 156th Street between 14th Avenue and Cryders Lane in Whitestone will officially be co-named “CPL. John McHugh Way.”

McHugh, born on March 6, 1924, was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in the First Infantry Division in World War II.

He fought in the Battle of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge.

He would later receive the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the European Theater of Operations Ribbon, two Presidential Unit Citations and more.

McHugh was inducted into the New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame in 2014, and was honored at the Little Neck – Douglaston Memorial Day Parade.

He passed away on July 21, 2019 at the age of 95.

He lived in Whitestone for over 25 years, which makes the street co-naming a fitting tribute.

The official ceremony for the co-naming will take place in the spring.

Queens County Farm secures new space

Barry and Queens Farm

The only remaining farm in New York City is moving to a bigger plot of land.

Last week, Councilman Barry Grodenchik announced that the Queens County Farm has secured a lease agreement for 1.6 acres. It will take over a space owned by the New York State Office of Mental Health.

“This additional land will allow the farm to increase crop production by more than 30 percent,” Grodenchik says.

According to Queens County Farm Museum executive director Jennifer Walden Weprin, the land leased to them by the state was part of the farm’s original footprint dating back to 1697.

The farm hosts an average of 400,000 visitors annually, and has welcomed more than 10 million visitors since it was established in 1975.

“This expansion supports the farm’s planned growth and will enable us to broaden our reach so we can serve more people in need of fresh produce in our communities,” Weprin says.

Weprin hosts holiday toy drive in his district

Holiday Toy Drive 2019


Yesterday morning, Assemblyman David Weprin joined the MS 172 school community in Glen Oaks to donate toys during his annual toy drive.

The collection was in honor of Jason Mark Weinstein, the son of Queens Supreme Court Administrative Judge Jeremy Weinstein. It’s the fifth year Weprin is teaming up for MS 172 for the event.

The toys will benefit the children of Heartshare Human Services of New York, as well as other children’s programs in Richmond Hill.

All donations must be received by December 20. They can be dropped off at Weprin’s district offices in Fresh Meadows (185-06 Union Turnpike) or Richmond Hill (111-12 Atlantic Avenue).

The toy drive is accepting new or gently-used unwrapped toys, books or games suitable for kids under 12 years old.

Queens College SBDC offering services in Korean

File photo. Congresswoman Meng helps cut the ribbon to the SBDC earlier this year.

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Queens College is now providing services in Korean.

The facility, which was launched in May with the help of Congresswoman Grace Meng, helps entrepreneurs by providing counseling, training and research services for free.

It helps small business owners develop business plans and apply for loans.

The facility already offers services in English and Mandarin.

The SBDC is located in Kissena Hall, across the street from the main campus, at 64-19 Kissena Boulevard. It is open from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Appointments for Korean-language services can be made by calling 718-570-0821.

Goldfish Swim School to open location at Tangram

Tangram Hero

A leading swim school franchise with nearly 100 locations nationwide is expanding to Tangram.

Goldfish Swim School has committed to an approximately 8,000-square-foot indoor space at the Flushing mega-development, developers announced earlier this week.

The facility is slated to open by spring 2021.

Goldfish Swim School will have a 75-foot, three-lane pool with a viewing area for parents, as well as a snack bar.

The school teaches more than 130,000 children, ranging from infants to 12 year olds, per week across the country.

In addition to offering swim sessions, Goldfish will also host birthday parties with a special party package that includes invitations, two hours of private access to the facility, certified lifeguards, cupcakes and beverages, balloons and more.

The Tangram location is expected to accommodate more than 3,000 kids and parents each week.

Center for the Women of New York reopens in Fort Totten

CWNY Ribbon Cutting

Over the weekend, the Center for the Women of New York (CWNY) celebrated its grand opening at its new facility on Fort Totten.

CWNY was founded in 1987 by Ann Juliano Jawin as a nonprofit membership organization. The group works for full equality for women’s rights.

The center offers women a safe place for their exploration of short-term, low-cost career paths. It includes a legal clinic, referral service, job club, financial clinic and support groups for women in crisis and victims of domestic violence.

For five years, CWNY had a building at 401 Weaver Street on Fort Totten. The city evicted the center, and after a legal challenge, they reached a compromise to restore a historic landmark building at 207 Totten Avenue.

The site had not been used or maintained in 35 years, and required a lot of expensive renovations, estimated at $3 million.

Borough President Melinda Katz, Assemblyman Ed Braunstein, Assemblyman David Weprin, Councilman Paul Vallone and former Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza provided the funding, along with private donors.

For now, CWNY will operate on the building’s first floor while funds are raised for the rest of the floors and an elevator.

Queens College Choral Society to perform “Carmina Burana”


At Queens College’s 79th annual Winter Concert on December 14 at 8 p.m., the QC Choral Society will perform the celebrated cantana “Carmina Burana.”

The performance will take place in the Colden Auditorium.

Based on medieval texts, “Carmina Burana” is one of the most popular choral works of all time. Its opening chorus, “O Fortuna,” has permeated pop culture as background music for movies such as “The Doors,” “The Messenger,” “The Hunt for Red October” and “Excalibur.”

The performance will feature pianists Max Midroit and Sarang Kim, percussion students from the Aaron Copland School of Music, professional soloists Stefanie Izzo (soprano), Sungwon Jin (tenor) and Sidney Outlaw (baritone).

James John, a professor of conducting at the Aaron Copland School of Music and music director of the choral society, will conduct.

For more details, including ticket information, see here.

Queens College ranked fourth on National Social Mobility Index

Clock tower Fridays

Queens College has moved up to fourth in the annual social mobility index.

Issued by CollegeNET, which provides web-based services to higher education and nonprofit institutions, the index measures the extent to which a college or university educates more economically disadvantaged students at lower tuition and graduates them into good-paying jobs.

QC was ranked 11th in the index last year.

According to the index, Queens College has a tuition of $7,138, and 44.4% of Queens College students are considered low-income students.

Those students who graduate earn a median early career salary of $48,200 per year.