WOODBURY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Prayers were answered for a Long Island-based volunteer organization that was grounded at the worst time of year.
As we told you Monday, Toys of Hope lost its toy delivery van in a crash, but the public heard its plea for help and came through.READ MORE: Rescue Mission On Long Island Suffers Devastating Setback After Pipes Burst, Flooding Newly Renovated Dining Hall
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, there were big smiles as Christmas came early for 700 Uniondale kids.
“If not for these toys, a lot of kids are not going to have a Christmas to celebrate,” said Raquel Pierre of the Uniondale PTA.
“It just makes them feel so important and so special,” another person said.
“She came through.,” another added.
“She” is Melissa Doktofsky, founder of Toys of Hope, who worried she would not come through. The volunteer organization’s donation van was totaled. They began canceling deliveries, and their beloved toy parades for homeless and needy families were in jeopardy.
But unexpected Santas came to the rescue: The Empire Automotive Group in Huntington.
“We knew we had to help,” said Keith Drago of Empire Automotive Group.
They lent the group an SUV while they locate a van to donate permanently.
“Listen, you’ve got to give back. It’s the season of giving. It’s just important. It’s what the world needs now, right? Doesn’t it? A little more giving,” Drago said.READ MORE: Mystery Of The Lost Mailers Greatly Impacting New Jersey Nonprofit's Ability To Fundraise To Help Homeless
Freeport Self Storage donated a large box truck until year’s end.
“We really need to spread some more joy around this holiday season. Just like every holiday season, but even more so this year,” said David Kampa of Freeport Self Storage.
Toy donations are pouring in.
“Their efforts, obviously, for the last 27 years, obviously, have not gone unnoticed,” said Shevta Lareja of the Primrose School of Woodbury.
Toys of Hope volunteers, who are used to being the givers, are overwhelmed to find themselves on the other side.
“Borrowed vans, borrowed trucks, that’s just love and magic at Christmas,” Doktofsky said. “I was crying. I just couldn’t believe it. People said, ‘We believe in you.’ They’re just willing to hand over their vehicles to me, no questions asked. They know our reputation.”
“We are going to help a lot of people and that’s the main thing,” added Brian Hansen, the organization’s volunteer director of operations.
From now until the end of the year, the truck and volunteers will not rest, with dozens of pickups and deliveries. One load was destined for a homeless shelter.
“I feel that Christmas is saved because the Christmas spirit is alive. Everyone wants this charity to make it,” Doktofsky said. “It’s a dream come true to have people believe in us.”
And believe in the magic of giving back.MORE NEWS: Charity 'Toys Of Hope' In Need Of Help After Delivery Van Totaled In Crash
Toys of Hope also delivers essentials like coats and food throughout the year. If you’d like to donate, CLICK HERE.