By CLOEY CALLAHAN
The New York State Laborers Union Local 17 partnered with the New York State Laborer’s Health and Safety Trust Fund to give away pajamas, pillows, school supplies and toys to children in need and at no cost.
The event was set up in just a few days and held at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center, located at 321 South William Street in Newburgh, on Tuesday, November 17 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
In the past, the union had done giving trees where people received a variety of different gifts. However, people requested pajamas and pillows time and time again so they figured they would launch the first ever “Pillows and PJS” event. The giveaway falls under the Laborers International Union of North America’s (LIUNA) Feel the Care community outreach initiative.
“It’s an initiative that we started last year to increase our outreach into the community and provide support where we feel that we can make a difference,” said Frank Marchese Jr., Executive Director of New York State Laborer’s Health and Safety Trust Fund.
Families were able to simply drive up to the Larkin Center of the Armory, tell them the size of pajamas they needed and how many pillows, and the items were placed in the trunk of their vehicle.
They distributed over 350 pairs of pajamas and 400 pillows, which far exceeded their expectations and called for two extra trips to Kohl’s and Carter’s.
“Pillows aren’t really a Christmas gift,” said Marchese Jr. “Let’s try to take care of that need first so that families can look for something else for the children.”
“Our mantra is that strong unions build strong communities,” said Marchese Jr.
Max Cuacaus, Director of Operations at the Armory, said that they were “so grateful to be able to have the Local 17 Union work with us on this and serve our community.”
It was the first time that the Armory and the Local 17 Union had partnered up. The same week, the Armory held the Saint Mary’s Church Giving Day on Friday and their weekly food distribution on Wednesday. The food distribution program will be continuing for weeks, if not months, said Cuacuas.