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The habit of giving:
Vince Smith, who has had a hairdressing salon in Battery Park City for more than 20 years, makes a habit of using his skills and resources for charity. Most recently, on Dec. 4, he donned a Santa Claus suit and opened his salon at 300 Rector Place to anyone who wanted a photo taken with Santa for $25, which Smith donated to Stockings With Care. This charity, founded by Battery Park City resident Rosalie Joseph, provides holiday gifts to children in crisis — shopping for exactly what the children say they want and giving the gifts to a child’s family to present to the child so that the parent can shine in the child’s eyes. He raised $850 for Stockings With Care — enough to buy gifts for eight or nine children.
Smith was spurred to think about how to help others by the events of 9/11. In the aftermath, he arranged to have a trauma counselor visit the salon twice a week for two years to help customers and staff cope with their grief. At the first Battery Park City block party in 2002, he and his team staged a “Cut-a-Thon” to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. In 2003, he celebrated his 13th anniversary in business with a Halloween fundraiser for multiple sclerosis. Then, in 2005 and 2006, he got even more ambitious, sponsoring, producing and performing in musical fundraisers at the Museum of Jewish Heritage to raise money for small businesses in Lower Manhattan that were having trouble staying afloat because of the September 11 catastrophe. “Our business was OK,” he said, “but I wanted to do something to help businesses that were still hurting. I was able to raise $10,000 and give two $5,000 grants.”
This year, he donated $1 from every service between March 15 and April 30 to the Red Cross to help people in northern Japan who were suffering from the tsunami. He has also over the years donated salon services to silent auctions that benefit local schools and daycare centers, no-kill animal shelters and what he calls other “worthy causes.”
He is the only Battery Park City small business owner who, year in and year out, has been so generous in his support of others in need. Even without a Santa Claus suit, he has been Father Christmas.
Stockings With Care still needs donations: Stockings With Care has received requests for holiday gifts from 1,500 homeless New York City children — but going into the final week when the gifts will be sorted, wrapped and shipped to the social service agencies that will distribute them, 300 children are without a “Santa” to brighten their holiday morning.
Caroline Willoughby, the Stockings With Care drive coordinator, is asking for more “Santas.” “When you sign up you will get a child’s name and wishes and then you (Santa) purchase the gifts and deliver them to us on Dec. 8 or 9,” she said in an email. “If you don’t have time to shop, you can make a donation and we will do the shopping for you.” It costs between $60 and $125 to provide gifts for one child, depending on the child’s age and requests. All contributions are fully tax deductible. In addition to money, volunteers are needed on Thursday, Dec. 8, to help set up the gift distribution center at 126 Leroy St. in Greenwich Village, and on Sunday, Dec. 11 to clean up afterward. For more information, go to www.stockingswithcare.org.
Battery Park City tree lighting:
The annual Battery Park City tree lighting takes place on Dec. 8 in South Cove, starting at 5:45 p.m. There will be singing and a visit from Santa. The Battery Park City Parks Conservancy, which organizes the event, asks that those who attend bring a new, unwrapped gift for donation to Stockings With Care, which will give the gifts to children and teens living in shelters.
Tree tips: Three vendors are selling Christmas trees in Battery Park City this year. Lifetime Vending has an elaborate stand in front of Battery Place Market, 77 Battery Place, with trees, wreaths, lights and a variety of ornaments. Hudson Produce at 300 Albany St. is selling trees and wreaths as are vendors based in a truck parked on South End Avenue near Gateway Plaza.
At Lifetime Vending, which also has a stand at Greenwich and Chambers Streets in Tribeca, trees range in size from two feet to 19 feet and in price from $25 to $600. Delivery is $20 and includes installation. Heather Lossmann, who runs the stand, says that she sells five kinds of trees: Fraser firs from North Carolina, Noble and Grand firs from Washington State, Balsams from two sources in Canada and Douglas firs from New Jersey. Frasers last the best, says Lossmann, but her favorite trees are the Grand firs because of the way they smell. Lossmann gets a new delivery of trees every week and will help customers pick out trees that fit their budget. “That’s my favorite part,” she said. “I never let anyone leave without a tree.” Call (609) 665-7283 for more information.
Hudson Produce sells Fraser firs ranging in size from four-and-a-half feet to eight feet and in price from $40 to $80. Free delivery is included. Call (212) 945-0500 for more information.
Battery Park City seniors’ potluck dinner:
On Thursday, Dec. 15 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., the Battery Park City seniors’ group will hold its annual potluck supper in the Battery Park City Authority community room at West Thames Street and the Hudson River. All seniors are invited and are welcome to bring a friend or a spouse along with a dish to share. Tom Goodkind and Wade Watson will provide musical entertainment. Ruth Ohman, who is organizing the evening, asks those who wish to attend to call her or email her to reserve a place and to let her know what dish they will be bringing. Her email is email@example.com and her phone number is (212) 912-0678 — “and please leave your own phone number,” Ohman says.
B.P.C.A. comments: The Battery Park City Authority has set up an email address for B.P.C. residents with questions or suggestions about parks, streets and property. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To comment on Battery Park City Beat or to suggest article ideas, email TereseLoeb@mac.com