Toy drives make holidays happier for hundreds of West New York & Union City kids

“I really want to say thank you to Roque for making this program because lots of kids don’t have toys and he’s helping the community,” says 11-year-old Ashley Escano.


The toy drive is always exciting for the children and being able to celebrate the holidays with their friends.

“Takes a lot of work for the community but at the end of the day it’s all about the kids, making sure they’re having a good time and they’re happy,” Commissioner Cosmo Cirillo says.

Mia Jardines loves giving back holiday style.

“Seeing the look on their faces when they see big kids dancing, that’s all really nice to see,” says Jardines, of Dance Fusion.

In Union City, Mayor Brian Stack started this event 35 years ago and he keeps it going for the children.

“Every child should have a toy under the tree,” Stack says. “A lot of families are very, very poor. We’ve got a great community here in Union City and they deserve this.

“With all the things that are going on in the world today, this is what you want to see.”

And the best part —

“The kids from West New York getting an opportunity to watch a beautiful show, seeing Santa Claus and just have them entertained for a little while during Christmas time,” says teacher Yesenia Camilo.

Adia Nasir likes performing for the kids and is spreading peace.

“To show how happy you should be during the holiday season, just bring joy to the world,” says Nasir, of Dance Fusion.

For 4-year-old Milena presents are great, but so is…

“Having fun,” she says.

About The Author

Jillian has a passion for news, giving voice to the voiceless and telling stories that make an impact. A New Jersey native, she spent the past two years as a multimedia journalist/one-man-band at WTAP-TV, the NBC affiliate in Parkersburg, West Virginia, where she covered everything from meth busts to fracking to the homeless to a young man struck by lightening. She was her news director’s “go to health reporter” and also covered many education and political stories. She frequently interviewed the mayors of Parkersburg, Vienna and Williamstown, WV and Belpre and Marietta, Ohio. She interviewed OH Gubernatorial Candidate Ed Fitzgerald and OH Congressional Candidate Jennifer Garrison, as well as WV Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and WV Senator Joe Manchin. Jillian was a regular fixture at the local police, sheriff’s departments, prosecutors’ offices and courthouses. Many looked forward to her ‘Mom of the Month’ series. Her story about two women who lost their children to heroin was widely recognized, along with her much loved piece on the Battle Against Cystic Fibrosis band camp. In her free time... Jillian enjoys yoga, working out, live music, spending time with friends on both coasts and the Mid-Ohio Valley. She also loves to connect with the community, so feel free to say hi if you see her around, shoot her an e-mail... or follow her @JillianRis .

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