A Bed-Stuy Christmas Carol

Jingle jangle, it’s already Christmastime! And it seems like no amount of crisis is slowing down the holiday spirit of giving back to the community.

The Bed Stuy Gateway Business Improvement District (BID) in partnership with Vulcan Society kicked off a toy drive benefiting underprivileged kids throughout the city this weekend with newly elected Assemblywoman Stefani Zinerman (D-Bedford Stuyvesant, Northern Crown Heights), excited residents, and community leaders dropping by.  

“I truly love my community,” said Zinerman. 

“This year’s Winter Bazaar is just another example of how we support our own and band together to get through hard times. Vendors and brick and mortar businesses are struggling to attract consumers during this pandemic that continues to ravage our state,” she added. 

Zinerman said that with COVID- 19 ravaging communities, she was truly touched but not surprised by the outpouring love and support from all who donated to the Toy Drive this weekend.

The Winter Wonderland and the Bed Stuy Holiday Bazaar is supported by Con Edison and a grant from the Design Forum Neighborhoods Now project. They are a part of Bedstuy’s BID, established in 2009, and Restoration Plaza Shop Local Campaign in hopes of encouraging holiday shopping in the neighborhood. It’s set up through a rapid-response initiative, founded by Van Alen Institute and urban Design Forum Neighborhoods Now, to aid in pandemic recovery throughout the city that focuses on lower-income communities and communities of color. 

Community Affairs Officer Chris Charles, Community Advocate Tahirah Moore, Chanele & Cheryl Osborne (Vendor: Vonali Services), Deborah Marton (Van Alen Institute), Lynette Battle (Bed Stuy Gateway BID), Stanley Banks (Bed Stuy Gateway BID Board Member), Juliette Lewis (Con Edison), Community Affairs Officer Sendy Diaz. Contributed photo.

The project is in collaboration with five community organizations including BIDs, Community Development Corporations (CDCs), and cultural leaders across the neighborhoods of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Jackson Heights, Kingsbridge, and Washington Heights. 

Zinerman said the new initiative was ingenious and would not only boost retail sales but also create a family experience that people can enjoy while being socially distant.

“This is the season of giving and the 56th District resoundingly answered the call!  Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanzaa, the generosity of spirit is the best gift of all!” said Zinerman. 

“The pandemic has presented many challenges and obstacles for our local merchants,” said Bed-Stuy Gateway BID’s Interim Executive Lynette Battle. “These outdoor experiences allow merchants to present their goods and services in a safe, festive environment.” 

There’s a contactless Santa Village where children and families can safely take touchless photos with its Black Santa. 

The space also includes a COVID safe zone that has a testing station, Santa safety station, and gift-wrapping station with plenty of room to socially distance and purchase gift items. 

The festivities started on Sunday, December 6, and will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every weekend thru December 20. Anyone that brings a toy to Winter Wonderland, will qualify to take a free picture with Mr. & Mrs. Claus. 

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