Charities and Shopping and Tree Lightings, Oh My!
The holiday spirit has permeated every aspect of life in Stewart Manor. Many residents took advantage of the long Thanksgiving weekend to adorn their homes with lights, snowmen and nativity scenes. Covert Avenue was abuzz, as local merchants shined in the spotlight of CBS News for their participation in Small Business Saturday. And as residents filled their calendars with tree lightings, caroling and holiday parties, the Stewart Manor Fire Department (SMFD) was in the throes of Operation Wounded Warrior (OWW).
Indeed, collection boxes for OWW were set up inside the entrance to Stewart Manor Village Hall through Nov. 29. Residents were encouraged to donate everything from T-shirts to toiletries to DVD players for soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who were wounded during combat operations in Afghanistan or Iraq and are recovering in military hospitals located in Washington, D.C. and North Carolina. While OWW is a nationwide campaign, the SMFD launched the Nassau County Fire Fighters (NCFF-OWW) branch of the organization in 2005, with a single SMFD rescue truck making the trip down to Maryland to deliver Christmas gifts to wounded servicemen and women, according to SMFD volunteer Bob Grogan. The NCFF-OWW has since grown to include more than 40 fire departments across Nassau County.
Their collection efforts culminated on Nov. 30, as dozens of volunteers delivered goods to Centennial Hall in Floral Park, then hauled box after box into convoy vehicles, which ranged from yellow school-type buses to U-Haul trucks. The scene was truly one of giving and of blessings. Cub Scouts from Pack 134 hand-delivered items they collected as well as gifts and cards they made, and Father Rudy from St. Anne’s Church in Garden City stopped by to bestow a blessing on the volunteers who will participate in the convoy, which was set to depart on Dec. 1.
Residents and local proprietors look to build on such a meaningful start to the holiday season. “The merchants of Stewart Manor helped launch Small Business Saturday, a nationwide campaign to keep shoppers close to their hometown mom and pop stores this holiday,” said CBS 2 News’ Jennifer McLogan, who reported from Covert Avenue on Nov. 27. “What is so great about shopping small?” she asked Richie O’Shea, owner of The Manor Irish Gift Shop. “Convenience, helping the customers with their wrappings and packaging,” O’Shea replied.
McLogan referred to O’Shea as “a big part of small town America. After two decades in Stewart Manor, he knows his customers by name and they depend on his advice and personal touch,” she said.
Jim McQuade of Matty’s Toy Shop, located on the Floral Park side of Covert Avenue, also prides his business on personal service. “We help [customers] to the car … we do all things like that, that the big stores don’t do,” he said.
Supporting local merchants is synergistic. “There is a very direct economic impact to our city sidewalks, our streets, our emergency services and our school systems based on where we hand somebody a dollar bill,” said Cinda Baxter, founder of The 3/50 Project, whose mission is to save the brick and mortar businesses our nation is built on. In fact, a recent study shows that for every $100 spent at local businesses, $68 of those returns to the community, McLogan said.
Bolstering the community helps it host events like the Stewart Manor Christmas Tree Lighting scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 4. The tree lighting, which was started years ago by the Stewart Manor Lions Club and the Beautification Committee, is now hosted by the Covert Avenue Chamber of Commerce, said Chamber President Cathy Grasman, who owns Jo-Mar Grooming and Boarding.
The tree, which was donated by Graham Garden Center, will be lit between 5 and 5:30 p.m. The Village of Stewart Manor, the Lions Club and the Covert Avenue Chamber of Commerce have once again arranged for horse and buggy rides between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. The rides will leave from the municipal parking lot on Covert and Chester avenues and proceed a few blocks down Chester Avenue. Either a $2 donation to the Lions Club or a toy for Toys for Tots is asked in return for a buggy ride. John Chilelli of Manor Fruit Shack will provide cookies and hot chocolate. What makes this event so special is that it “brings two villages together,” said Grasman.
Once the tree is lit, residents can look forward to Christmas caroling on the lawn of the Stewart Manor Country Club (SMCC) on Monday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m., hosted by the SMFD. And the SMCC will host the Village Holiday Party on Friday, Dec. 17, from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Reservations will be accepted through Dec. 10 and must be accompanied with full payment of $60 per person.