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Hundreds Of Families In Need Lineup For Free Food, Toys For Holidays In Queens

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Hundreds of families in need received free food and toys in Queens on Monday.

As CBS2's Kiran Dhillon reported, the giveaway came just in time for the holidays.

The line outside The Greater Allen Cathedral of New York in Jamaica wrapped around the block.

Margaret Gonzalez, a single mother of three, was one of the first in line for free food and toys. She lost her job due to the pandemic and is struggling to get by.

queens toy food giveaway dhillon
The line outside The Greater Allen Cathedral of New York in Jamaica wrapped around the block as families in need waited to receive holiday food and toy donations. (credit: CBS2)

"The bills are the most important, and the rent. I have to be on top of it. If not, I'm gonna be in the streets with them, or a shelter, and I really don't want that for Christmas," said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said the support from the community is beyond helpful.

Keisha Clements, who's collecting toys for her three kids, agreed.

"It's a blessing that they do this every year. We have our own children, we have our neighbors and our church kids so, whatever we get, we pass it on and, the food, I usually share with my neighbors, too," said Clements.

Kia Yarbrough and her daughter Khalia were there too.

"We need the extra food. My husband's the only one working so now food is dwindling down," Yarbrough said.

The families were among at least 800 set to receive free food and gifts Monday.

The holiday giveaway, now in its 7th year, is put on by The Greater Allen Cathedral of New York.

Organizers said, due to COVID, this was the first time for many families.

"We are called as a church to do outreach and mission and so, it's really important to us that we be able to help alleviate some of the challenges that a lot of families are feeling, especially with the impact of COVID," said organizer Rodeena Stephens Ceaser.

Each family received a bag filled with produce, meats and breads. Even Santa, along with local police, showed up to see the kids receive their free toys.

According to organizers, the toys were available to kids in the community between the ages of 5 and 12. Each child walked away with at least two gifts.


The event was especially meaningful to Shamika Brodnax, who brought her son.

"It helps increase the food on the table. It increases the gifts under the tree... As an essential worker, homecare provider, I don't make a ton of money. So this is really impactful for my family," Brodnax said.

"If it wasn't for the help of other strangers to help us out, then I wouldn't have my family and I know they need stuff to brighten their days, too," Gonzalez said.

Organizers said all of the food was donated by City Harvest. The toys were made available through the church, members of the congregation and corporate sponsors.

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