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Hamptons Holiday Toy Drive Benefiting Victims Of Domestic Violence

Nicole Barylski

There's nothing more rewarding than seeing the joyful face of an innocent child opening up their Christmas gifts.

From Thursday, December 1st through Wednesday, December 14th, the South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center (SoFo) in Bridgehampton is holding its annual Toy Drive in support of The Retreat, the East End's sole domestic violence agency. By making a donation, while you may not actually get to see the child's reaction as they excitedly rip off the wrapping paper and unveil your present, you can wake up on Christmas knowing that you made a profound difference on a day which otherwise might not be so merry.

"SoFo is very excited to host our 3rd Annual Holiday Toy Drive which is dedicated to ensuring that all East End families enjoy this holiday season," expressed Frank Quevedo, SoFo Executive Director. "We invite everyone to drop off new or gently used items to share with our many families in need."

To participate and help make the holiday season special for those in need of a joyful boost, you can bring new, unwrapped toys to the Natural History Museum and Nature Center. Each year, The Retreat presents its Adopt-A-Family holiday program, where donors essentially take over the role of "Santa" for The Retreat clients, and this Toy Drive will be used to support the program.

"The generosity of our community is awe-inspiring. Having The South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center host a toy drive means children, who may not have had anything under the tree, will be smiling this holiday season," expressed Kimberly J. Nichols, Director of Development at The Retreat. "It means parents, who felt helpless, will be able to give their children gifts this holiday season."

In 2015, 110 local client families participated in the seasonal program and The Retreat served over 300 people. The not-for-profit expects to assist just as many, if not more, community members in 2016.

"We are so grateful to SoFo and the numerous other individuals and organizations that help The Retreat families," she added. "All donations received by the annual Retreat holiday drive go directly to our clients."

In addition to spreading holiday cheer, more importantly, The Retreat provides a safe haven for families in crisis.

"This year, we are helping 103 families, totaling 325 individuals. The families are actively receiving services from The Retreat such as counseling, advocacy, financial and job training, and mentoring," Nichols noted. "Or the family may be in our emergency shelter. The families come in all shapes and sizes but have one thing in common - they are survivors! Each has chosen to break the cycle of abuse by reaching out for help."

Not only does the not-for-profit provide a 24/7 domestic violence crisis hotline, it also provides individual and group counseling, legal advocacy, a residential shelter for all ages, and raises awareness for violence prevention, including educational programs that are brought to local schools.

"Annually, The Retreat helps more than 3,400 people," she shared. "If you need help, or know someone living with violence, please call our hotline at 631-329-2200. Help is only a call away."

Donations can be dropped off daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center is located at 377 Bridgehampton -
Sag Harbor Turnpike in Bridgehampton. For more information, call 631-537-9735 or visit sofo.org. For more information about The Retreat, call 631-329-4398 or visit www.theretreatinc.org.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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