Battery Park City, Nov. 14, 2012

On Sat., Nov. 10, Robert Sckalor, the executive chef at Battery Place Market — which has stores at 77 Battery Place and in the Goldman Sachs alley — prepared a hot buffet to serve to 150 people in Midland Beach, Staten Island, one of the most hard-hit communities. Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Battery Place Market aids Sandy victims:
On Sat., Nov. 10, chef Robert Sckalor of the Battery Place Market and several of his colleagues including the market’s owner, Sung Kim, drove to Midland Beach, Staten Island, with enough food to arrange a hot buffet for 150 people. Sckalor received food donations from the market’s vendors that enabled him to cook a salmon, prepare a Spanish pork stew and more.

Midland Beach was flattened by Superstorm Sandy. Sckalor said he had seen pictures of what happened but he didn’t comprehend the extent of the destruction until he saw it himself. “It stretched out for blocks and blocks,” he said.

Sckalor started cooking that day at 6 a.m. The Battery Place Market group left at 10:30 a.m. with their cargo of food but didn’t arrive at Midland Beach until well after noon. Sckalor said there was a lot of traffic and that it was moving more slowly than usual because so many traffic lights were out.

Reportedly, hundreds of people showed up to eat what the group had brought. “They were so appreciative,” he said. “It made me feel good.”

On Sat., Nov. 17, the Battery Place Market team will go to the Rockaways with their food offering. “I want to help out in any way I can,” said Sckalor. “It’s tragic, what’s happened to the Tri-State area. I don’t see this going away any time soon.”

Erdol Atessonmez, who runs the fruit stand on South End Avenue at Albany Street, is doling out free fruit to anyone in need. Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Fruit stand:
A fruit cart is on the  corner of South End Avenue and Albany Street every day from early morning to late at night, rain or shine, with modestly priced fruits and vegetables. This past week, Erdol Atessonmez, who runs the cart with a friend, put up a sign that offers free fruit to those in need “because of Sandy.”

“That’s what we do in my country when people are in trouble,” he said. Atessonmez comes from Turkey and arrived in New York City 11 months ago.

Stockings With Care:
Battery Park City resident Rosalie Joseph, who is always thinking about how to help others, could not bear the thought of kids in homeless shelters or who are otherwise in crisis and not having a joyful Christmas. Neither did she like the thought of sad parents who were not in a position to provide a happy day for their children. Twenty-one years ago, Joseph and a friend, Tom Fontana, founded Stockings With Care to help some of these children and their families.

Stockings With Care gets holiday wish lists from thousands of children each year and then finds people who shop to fill these children’s requests, donate money so others can shop for the kids or who volunteer to wrap and help distribute the gifts that pour in. Gifts are presented to the parents of the children so that they are the ones who brighten the child’s life on Christmas morning — letting the children know that despite hardships, Santa didn’t forget them.

This year, there are 1,500 children on Joseph’s list ranging in age from birth to 17. Among the recipients will be a Staten Island agency that serves families in need. Joseph said that she knows donations will be “more challenging” to come by this year than usual because of the impact of Sandy and because so many people have already donated to other charities — but, she said, “We will do our best and somehow every child will get their Christmas.”

People who sign up to be a “Santa” get children’s wish lists and are asked to buy at least two items the children asked for. The average cost is $75 per child. Sometimes people team up to buy gifts for one child.

Donated money is used to fill the gaps so that every child gets a coveted present.

The Stockings With Care website, www.stockingswithcare.org, explains how one can sign up to be a Santa, make a donation or volunteer. Drop-off days for the gifts will be Fri., Dec. 7 through Sun., Dec. 9 at a location to be determined.

Canstruction postponed:
For the last five years, in the weeks before Thanksgiving, Brookfield Office Properties has hosted an ingenious design competition called “Canstruction” at the World Financial Center. After months of planning, on one very busy night, teams from some of the city’s top architectural and engineering firms plus some students under their direction would erect giant sculptures out of canned food. Most of the sculptures consisted of several thousand cans shaped into such objects as a seahorse, a sneaker, a bowling alley and the leaning tower of Pisa. The entries were judged in several categories including “Best Meal,” “Best Use of Labels” and “Structural Ingenuity.” The sculptures were slated to be dismantled shortly before Thanksgiving so that the cans could be donated to City Harvest to stock community food programs over the holidays.

This year, Canstruction has been postponed to 2013 because of Sandy. However, donations of canned food are very much welcome. Brookfield has set up a large collection box in the Winter Garden of 2 World Financial Center. Donations can be accepted until 4 p.m. on Wed., Nov. 21.

Poets House master classes:
“Only be sure the Poet’s House is spared,” wrote the great Russian poet Anna Akhmatova as translated by Stanley Kunitz, the co-founder of Poets House. “That’s how we feel,” said Poets House spokesperson Alex Mann.

Poets House was spared by Superstorm Sandy. Considering that Poets House directly faces the Hudson River at 10 River Terrace, when Mann used the word “miraculously” to describe the fact that Poets House sailed through the storm without damage, her description did not seem misplaced.

Poets House has a 50,000-volume poetry library, sponsors lectures and has an intimate gallery space. In addition, Poets House offers poetry classes with leading poets. For master classes, applications are required and space is limited. Though most of the Poets House offerings are free or cost $10 or less, the master classes cost $390 each.

On Sat., Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. and Sun., Dec. 9 at 4 p.m., Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon, a professor at Princeton University and Chair of the Peter B. Lewis Center for the Arts, will teach at Poets House.

To apply, send three poems accompanied by a cover sheet with your name, address, e-mail address and phone number to Poets House, 10 River Terrace, New York, NY 10282. Attn: Classes. Applications are due by Fri., Nov. 16.

By Terese Loeb Kreuzer  — To comment on Battery Park City Beat or to suggest article ideas, e-mail Terese Loeb Kreuzer at TereseLoeb10@gmail.com.

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