The holiday spirit is alive and well in Garden City! Family Center for Autism Assistant Director Lonnell Harrington shares this special experience in preparation for their annual Holiday Party.

As I was seeking toy donations for the Family Center for Autism Christmas Party, I called around to all the local toy stores. One of them happened to be LEGO at the Roosevelt Field Mall and I spoke to the manager, Vicki Pedersen. Vicki explained that LEGO’s corporate headquarters are located in Connecticut, and that donations are made locally. I expected that to be the end of the call, but Vicki indicated that she would like to donate personally and would ask her staff if they would consider as well. “Come to the store next week and we will have something for you,” she committed.

When I arrived at the LEGO store, I was enthusiastically greeted by a supported person. Upon speaking with Vicki, I learned that they employ several people with special needs and they clearly had hold of Vicki’s heartstrings. Three extra-large shopping bags holding approximately 30 LEGO gifts were presented to me, generously donated by Vicki as well as Keith Gillen, the Assistant Store Manager. Not only did they donate all of these amazing items, but they helped me get the gifts to my car.

When I drove out of the mall with my car full of gifts, my heart was also full, having experienced the true meaning of Christmas. I felt so blessed to have met such kind and giving people. Our hearts will again be full as we deliver the gifts to people with autism and developmental disabilities and see joy light up their eyes when they tear open their presents.

We hope to pay the joy of the season forward and have invited Vicki and Keith to be our guests at the Family Center for Autism Holiday Party on Saturday, December 17th. Doors open at 5pm, when Santa will be the Nassau County Bar Association, 15 West Street, Mineola from 5-7 pm, $25 Adults/$15 Children. Food, Games, Gifts & Santa. For more info call 516.741.9000, EXT 9220.

Happy Holidays!