Eight years ago, Council Member Andy King and his family hosted a holiday meal and gift-giving event, opening their Bronx home to neighborhood children from youth programs, nearby NYCHA developments and throughout the community.

“My wife, Neva, and I wanted to do something to give back to the community. We had founded the Bronx Youth Empowerment Program to help the community’s youth. While working with the youth, we noticed that many of the young people and their families were having financial challenges. It was then that we decided to open our home to them for the holidays,” explained King, co-chair of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus of the City Council.

“This has become our holiday tradition,” said King, summarizing the mission of spreading joy and love during the holiday season. “However, the celebration has become too big for our house.”

King, his wife, Neva Shillingford-King, an executive vice president at 1199 SEIU, and Bronx YEP hosted their annual holiday meal and gift-giving event Christmas eve at Eastwood Manor in the Bronx. Over 400 children and their families from a nearby family shelter, NYCHA developments and the community attended.

In addition to dancing and games, the children marveled from one-on-one hugs and pictures with Santa and Times Square’s Batman, Bat Girl and Elsa. In addition, entertainer and rapper Slick Rick presented holiday gifts to members of Bronx YEP.

A number of merchants, community-based organizations, unions and individuals from the community donated toys and goods for the celebration.