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Embrace The Season Of Giving With These East End Clothing And Toy Drives

Nicole Barylski

There's plenty of ways to spread holiday cheer throughout the East End. (Photo courtesy of Town & Country Real Estate)

Looking for a way to give back during the holidays? If you have some winter gear you're not using, donate it to one of these drives, or do a little shopping and pick up a kid's toy or two for these great causes.

James Kappers, 2nd Assistant Chief of the Hampton Bays Fire Department, and his wife Megan are once again spearheading the Hampton Bays Fire Department Stuff a Truck Toy Drive. From Tuesday, November 20 through Wednesday, December 19, the Hampton Bays Fire Department (69 West Montauk Highway, Hampton Bays) is collecting gifts for children hospitalized at Stony Brook Children's Hospital (SBCH), their siblings and families that are using the wonderful services offered by the Ronald McDonald House.

For the couple, the mission is personal as after the premature birth of their son, Kolton, the couple relied on several of the Ronald McDonald House's services. "The real reason we thought about doing this, particularly around the holidays, is that when our son was born prematurely on November 4, 2015 he was hospitalized for about a month. He was released and a few months later was admitted again for 42 days," James noted. "At the time my wife, in particular, utilized the Ronald McDonald House at Stony Brook, and it was so comforting to have a place where you could stay, have a shower and where other family members, such as our daughter, now four, could come and spend time with us, as we tried to keep the holidays bright and positive."

So, they thought about how they can assist the organization that helped them through a tough time and spread some holiday cheer to those going through a similar situation. "After the long hospital stays for Kolton, we were aware of just how many families were in the same situation as us and just trying to do their best," James explained. "I have participated in other fundraising efforts over the years, but we felt a Stuff a Truck Toy Drive would be the most appropriate way to brighten the days of these hospitalized children, and their siblings too, as well as recognize the Ronald McDonald House in appreciation of what they do for families, along with Stony Brook Children's Hospital."

There will be a dispatcher at the Fire Department 24/7, so donations can be dropped off anytime. Once the drive has wrapped up, the Hampton Bays Fire Department will hand-deliver the presents to The Ronald McDonald Family Room at SBCH. Any additional gifts will be pass along to other Long Island-based Ronald McDonald Family Rooms.

"It is always a good thing to be able to brighten the day of families affected by illness in a manner that the whole family's spirits are lifted and maybe helps get them through these difficult times," James added. For more information, contact James Kappers at Jpk528@hotmail.com, call 631-445-3495, or visit hamptonbaysfiredept.com.

Town & Country Real Estate is hosting its annual Winter Coat Drive through Saturday, December 1. Those with winter gear- including new or gently used coats, hats, and gloves - can drop it off at the Westhampton Beach (132 Main Street), Southampton (16 Hampton Road), Bridgehampton (2415 Main Street), East Hampton (46 Main Street), Montauk (#1 Carl Fisher Plaza), Mattituck (6920 Main Road) or Greenport (120 Front Street) Town & Country offices. Donations will be spread between Maureen's Haven Outreach, John's Place Shelter, United Veteran's House, and The Retreat. For more information, call 631-838-7608.

There are still a few families in need of being "adopted" through The Retreat's "Adopt a Family" holiday giving program. To participate, you select a family in need (who are current clients of the programs The Retreat offers throughout Suffolk County) and then let the shopping begin. While there is no set number of items you must purchase, The Retreat asks that you get at least three gifts for each family member. "Adopt a Family" gifts must be dropped off by Saturday, December 8. The Retreat also welcomes gift cards. For more information, visit www.theretreatinc.org.

A Holiday Coat Drive is currently taking place at L & W Market (2493 Montauk Highway, Bridgehampton). Now through Monday, December 31, L&W Market is collecting lightly used or new coats, which will be donated to Maureen's Haven. As a thank you for giving back, gifters will receive a free cup of coffee. "The East End has sustained our businesses for 18 years. The goal is to repay that generosity in our own small way," Jason Weiner, Owner L&W Market, reflected. For more information, call 631-537-1123.

The district office of New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. (2302 Main Street, Suite A, in Bridgehampton) will be accepting donations for the annual U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program from Monday, November 26 through Friday, December 7. Donors are asked to bring new, unwrapped toys for children. Items may be dropped off between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. For more information, call 631-537-2583.

"I am so proud to be a part of such a fine organization that helps make the holidays special for children who are less fortunate," said Assemblyman Thiele. "I encourage residents to take part in the Toys for Tots program and drop off a new, unwrapped toy to my office. If everyone does their part, we can make this holiday season a magical one for all children."

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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