Southern Brooklyn do-gooders gifted financial support to 15 struggling neighbors this holiday season, as the coronavirus pandemic left them struggling to make ends meet.
“I think, more than anything, it represents hope to some of these families, that others are thinking about them, that they are not alone and that their community supports them,” said Karen Tadross, president of Bay Ridge Cares, who spearheaded the initiative.
The neighborhood philanthropic group launched their “Holiday Wishes Fundraiser” on Dec. 6 in place of their annual pajama and book fundraiser, which saw some logistical issues from the ongoing pandemic.
“Because of COVID, none of the hospitals were accepting deliveries of any kinds of goods,” Tadross said. “So we decided what we would do is seek out some of our local families who were having a hard time.”
Within five hours of posting their fundraiser to Facebook, Bay Ridge Cares reached their initial goal of $1,000, and within two days exceeded their increased goal of $2,000 — amounting to a grand total of $4,370 after the organization matched contributions up to $2,000.
“In two days, we had gone from $0 to $2,000,” Tadross said. “And when the community kept contributing, we figured let’s pull some more money from our reserves.”
The funds were divided into fifteen separate grants that were given to families and individuals in southern Brooklyn who used the money to feed and house their families through the holiday season, pay their bills or to have some presents under the tree for their children on Christmas morning.
“We delivered to one family who said it made the difference between their lights being shut off and not,” Tadross said. “People did all kinds of different things with what we were able to provide to them.”
The recipients — ranging from a single homeless man to a family of 12 — were selected because they had previously received support from Bay Ridge Cares or were recommended for assistance by elected officials and other local organizations.
“Not everybody is always on our radar,” Tadross said. “We reached out to each of [our elected officials and partner organizations] and asked them to nominate some families they have worked with.’
The outpouring of support from their community did not surprise the members of Bay Ridge Cares, who said they can always count on their neighborhood to turn out to help their neighbors — a characteristic they say makes Bay Ridge a special place.
“It really is neighbors helping neighbors,” Tadross said. “That is the essence of Bay Ridge Cares.”