NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — A Staten Island non-profit has provided free toys for those in need and is collecting unwanted items for a re-gifting program.
As WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported, it’s all part of a commitment to better the community.
In the aftermath of 9/11, Dennis McKeon wanted to help.
“Where To Turn’ started actually as the St. Claire’s World Trade Center Outreach Program. We lost 29 people in St. Claire’s in the World Trade Center,” he said.
That turned into an information clearing house which led to community programs on Staten Island like snow shoveling for seniors.
“What we did is we started registering senior citizens and we started recruiting student volunteers,” he explained.
They also collect and distribute prom dresses, and clean up vacant lots.
After Hurricane Katrina, McKeon called police in Mississippi.
“They gave us a list of things we needed. We filled up two 18-wheelers full of donated supplies and we sent it down to Bellport, Mississippi,” he said.
Then came the earthquake in Haiti.
“So, we said, ‘you know what, everybody has extra t-shirts from events they go to, so we’ll collect 10,000 t-shirts and send it down to Haiti. We collected 98,000 t-shirts,” he said.
The non-profit’s growth seemed natural.
“It just evolved. People started asking us if we can help, and if we found ways to help we did. If we didn’t have a program to do it, we developed a program,” he said.
It’s all done with minimal overhead.
“This wouldn’t be possible without all the volunteers that we have. These are people who want to help. We just give them the opportunity to help. I just help organize it,” he said.
McKeon said that Staten Islanders are incredibly generous.