Harvel Brown hosts 3rd annual Christmas Toy Drive

By Kerry Butrick Dowling
Posted 12/13/22

With the state of the world, some families can use a little Christmas cheer during the holiday season. Harvel Brown, 31, of Newburgh saw the need in his beloved hometown and decided to help those …

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Harvel Brown hosts 3rd annual Christmas Toy Drive


With the state of the world, some families can use a little Christmas cheer during the holiday season. Harvel Brown, 31, of Newburgh saw the need in his beloved hometown and decided to help those around him by doing a holiday toy drive. Now in its third year Harvel Brown’s Christmas Toy Drive is spreading hope and holiday cheer to Newburgh families.

When the pandemic began, Brown volunteered with Newburgh Mutual Aid to give out food and basic necessities to families in the community. When the project ended, Brown decided to continue doing the work in the community on his own. Over the summer he holds a window fan and air conditioner drive, a backpack/school supply drive, and later in the year a Thanksgiving food collection drive. In 2021, his holiday toy drive distributed over 250 toys to children in the City of Newburgh.

A graduate of Newburgh Free Academy, Brown grew up in Newburgh and was raised by a single mother and his godparents. Brown remembers how hard his mother worked to give him everything he needed and is not naive to the plight of those around him especially in these trying times given the economy. With food insecurity, homelessness and families facing rising costs for everyday basic needs, Brown said he wants to be able to help in any way that he can. In addition, he has a young daughter himself, and as a parent he wants to help other parents make the holidays bright for their families.

“I think coming from Newburgh you see a lot of different types of people and some people need help. I was one of those kids. We sometimes depended on other people. Times are hard and I know there’s someone out there that needs it. It’s really hard for people to feed their kids even now, and I want to take that burden off them,” he shared.

Brown went on to say that often birthdays and holidays are the hardest for families when it comes to having extra expenses. “I want every kid to wake up Christmas morning with something under the tree,” he explained. With his daughter on his mind, he also shared that it’s important to know what you have and what you can do for others. “I don’t want her to ever know what it is to need, but at the same time I don’t want her to take what she has for granted, either.”

By giving to others, Brown often is moved by the impact his drives can make on someone. When asked about his favorite memory he remembered a family that was new to Newburgh and spoke Spanish so a translator was needed. “The mother had only been here a few months and she didn’t know where to go, but she was able to get in contact with me so I gave her what I had to help her and she was very grateful,” explained Brown.

During his school years, Brown said teachers and school leaders became like a second family to him. He credits the support of those close to him with making him the man he is today and for supporting him during his younger years.

Brown’s former Newburgh Free Academy carpentry teacher Chris Cotton shared, “Harvel entered the carpentry program as a freshman and spent the next few years maturing and growing into a fine young man with a huge heart and a willingness to do what he could to improve his community. I am extremely proud of who he is and what he’s trying to accomplish.”

Karrie Bunce was an Assistant Principal at Newburgh Free Academy when she first met Brown. Over the years since, Brown has remained close with her and her extended family. “Harvel is a man with an authentic spirit and a warm, loving heart. Despite many obstacles life placed in his path, he’s always been a champion for others. Even as a young man he could be found supporting someone in need, whether it took his last dime or bit of energy to do so. My family is incredibly proud to have been able to watch him grow into the man and father he is and even more proud to watch him dedicate his life to giving back to his community. We can’t wait to see what his future holds,” shared a proud Bunce.

Brown is collecting toys for this year’s drive until December 23. Donation drop off locations include: Cream of Newburgh (101 Liberty Street), Silk Factory (299 Washington Street) and Toasted (45 Liberty Street). Brown also has an Amazon Wish List available for anyone who wants to donate an item off the list and cash donations can be made via Venmo to @HarvelBrown. Brown said items for teenagers and hygiene products for small gift bags are still needed in particular. He thanked everyone for their support of his initiatives and looks forward to future opportunities to give back.

“I do this for my community. We all live here, and we all have to survive. We need to try to just make sure the next person is happy,” said Brown.


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