How does Peninsula Kiwanis, Independent Coach and Nassau County partner on toy drive?


Giving toys to Five Towns children in need is a year round project, according to Christopher McGrath, former president of Peninsula Kiwanis Club.

“The initial toy drive just went to the children in the local hospitals during the holiday season,” McGrath said. “It expanded because more people were in need.”

Each year, the club hosts a Christmas Dream event, distributing toys to children who may not otherwise get gifts during holidays. McGrath said the club also collects coats and clothing for kids.

Once the holidays roll around, Kiwanis receives lists of students in need from the Five Towns Community Center, Five Town’s childcare centers, Our Lady of Good Counsel R.C. Church in Inwood and local schools, from social workers. The toys collected throughout the year are then sorted to ensure the appropriate-age toy is received by the children.

“We try to match it,” McGrath said of all the toy requests.

Annually, the organization donates anywhere from 450 to nearly 600 toys.

“We give toys to every person, age, race doesn’t matter,” McGrath said.

Outside of holiday season, Kiwanis focuses on collecting donations from major toy producers looking to give back, as well as independent donors.

“Were just gathering them now, you have to get them when you can get them,” McGrath said.

Independent Coach Corp., a Five Towns-based bus company that services the Hewlett-Woodmere and Lawrence school districts, stepped up this year to aid in transport of toys to and from distribution sites.

“They’re a company that is born in bred in our community that never stops giving back to our community,” McGrath said.

Toys are stored in a warehouse, lent to the organization from Nassau County.

“Its something that the county executive believes in, taking care of the poor is one of his missions,” he said of County Executive Bruce Blakeman.

Michael Sperber, the risk manager at Independent Coach Corp. said the company has supported Peninsula Kiwanis’ efforts for decades.

On March 11, the company picked up toys from 700 Hicksville Road at the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management to be given to children by Kiwanis.

“This was the first time that we’ve picked up the toys for them because they had such a great abundance,” Sperber said. “They had volunteers out there to meet the vehicle, we loaded the vehicle up, top to bottom, side to side.”

Independent Coach Corp. also volunteers to help with bringing Christmas trees to veterans, transporting students to backpack fundraisers, for those in need of a book bag, offering rides to church programs at times, in addition to many other community services.

“It’s a family owned company, the ownership does what we can to support the community in whatever ways we can,” Sperber said.

U.S. Marines typically donate toys and the WE CARE Fund, of the Nassau County Bar association issues grants for additional toys, McGrath said late-in-the-year distribution event happen.

“We want to maximize those dollars and funds that we’re giving back to the community,” Jeffrey Catterson of WE CARE said. “With the toy drive, those dollars we are giving back, go right back to help those in need.”

For more information on getting involved with the Peninsula Kiwanis’ toy drive go to