Harlem celebrates the holiday season (36786)

The spirit of the holiday was felt across the city as people came together to celebrateChristmas with food, family, friends and good cheer. There was also a sense of giving back as many people in the five boroughs spent the day volunteering their time to help others. Here is a rundown of some Christmas highlights from around the area.

Christmas at the National Action Network

The Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network hosted its annual Christmas event at its Harlem headquarters. NAN fed the hungry and gave out toys to children. Local elected officials and community leaders were on hand including New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Assemblyman Keith Wright and City Councilmember Leitia James. Last week NAN gave away 3,000 turkeys to community residents in Harlem and Queens.

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority toy giveaway

Kappa Alpha Pis Fraternity and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority gave away toys, clothes and books to families at Harlem Dowling and East River Family Shelter. Both organizations donated items to over 250 foster care children and families shelter children. Hip hop pioneer and magazine mogul Cynthia Horner joined in the effort.

Occupy Wall Street celebrates Christmas

Several occupy movement faith groups hosted an interfaith gathering, inviting people of all cultures and religious beliefs to come and celebrate together at Liberty Square (Zucotti Park). December 25 marked the 100th day of Occupy Wall Street. A midnight was led by a minister from Judson Church which lead into a prayer vigil beginning at 2 am, with breakfast served at 9 am, followed by performances. At noon, Martin Luther King’s seminal “Beyond Vietnam” speech was read . Following more music, a 3 pm holiday ‘potluck’ holiday meal from donations was shared. At 4 pm, Ecclesia Ministry offered communion, followed at 5 PM by poetry, storytelling and music until midnight Christmas night.

Christmas at The Fortune Society’s Castle Gardens

Surrounded by holiday music, delicious sweets, a Christmas tree, colorful lights and other festive decor, a dozen underprivileged, low income families, who are all formerly homeless, received a sack of Christmas presents and a visit from Santa during a holiday celebration this past Friday at The Fortune Society’s Castle Garden. Good Samaritan Moana Casanova and her co-workers raised more than $1,400 to purchase the presents as part of their annual gift drive benefiting families of The Fortune Society, one of the nation’s most respected nonprofit organizations offering services to formerly incarcerated individuals and low income families.