Hempstead Community Creates ‘Winter Wonderland’ for Children


More than 800 Hempstead children experienced the joy of the holiday season at a community Winter Wonderland event on Dec. 18.

The Hempstead NAACP, Police Athletic League (PAL), and other local groups came together and gave out nearly 3,000 toys to students in Kindergarten through sixth grade at the Marshall School administration building. Kids walked through gift rooms and each chose a toy, and also picked out new coats and backpacks.

“Our goal was to make the holidays a little brighter for our Hempstead kids,” says event coordinator Barbara Powell, director of the Empire State Afterschool Program and president of the Hempstead NAACP.

Powell and other community members spent weeks coordinating the event, decorating the building to make it festive, and sorting gifts. After choosing a gift, children met one of the event’s Santas, including a bilingual Santa Claus.

In addition, PAL donated a bike that they raffled off at the event, and families enjoyed hot chocolate and lunch provided by Long Island Gourmet.

Hempstead Schools Superintendent Regina Armstrong manned the coat and backpack room, while school board members Randy Stith and Lamont Johnson (Santa), helped direct children and their parents to the gift rooms.

Other contributors to the event included Thurston O’Neal of Family & Children’s Association, the Hempstead Prevention Coalition, Pizzatini owner Joe Lamendola, Toys for Tots, the John Thiessen Children Foundation, and Spotless Car Wash. Village Mayor Waylyn Hobbs also made an appearance.

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