Festive activities this holiday season for a charitable cause


Itching to get into the holiday spirit? Want to be whisked away to a winter wonderland, or see who in the community has the most eccentric ugly sweater this year? Look no further than Rescuing Families winter activities and fundraising events.

Franklin Square-based nonprofit Rescuing Families recently hosted its second annual holiday craft and gift boutique last weekend at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2718. Community members were able to shop a variety of 36 local vendors for handmade crafts and goods Nov. 18 and 19 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Every one of them makes something different,” said Gina Centauro, founder of Rescuing Families.

Folks were able to shop the services offered by vendors, such as a woodworking vendor, crochet dolls, artisanal soaps, stained glass, jewelry, hand-crafted potholders and more.

The craft and gift boutique required a $5 entry fee for attendees, hosted a 50/50 raffle and sold holiday staples such as wreaths and poinsettias. Centauro said there was also a Thanksgiving centerpiece raffled off to a winner.

Comic books such as Marvel and DC were sold at the boutique as well, which neighbors were excited to parse through. The comic books were donated to Rescuing Families by a charity supporter over the summer. Throughout the summer, Rescuing Families hosted two community marketplaces, where the comic book sales made up $3,000 of donations to the projects the nonprofit works on.

“What a gift of a donation it was,” Cenaturo said.

For anyone who didn’t get the chance to check out the holiday craft and gift boutique last weekend, do not fret. Rescuing Families will host several other holiday festivities this season.

On Dec. 3 and 10, the Centauro’s will host a winter wonderland walkthrough at 1010 Lewiston Street in Franklin Square from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wreaths and poinsettias will be for sale, and attendees will be able to grab hot chocolate and cookies for free.

The walkthrough will be free, but Rescuing Families will accept donations for those wanting to give. During the nonprofit’s haunted cemetery walkthrough for Halloween this year, the organization was able to raise more than $400.

“We were very busy that night, so it was nice to be able to say that the majority of people donated,” Centauro said.

The winter wonderland walkthrough will be lit up for people to walk through, and Centauro said that there will even be some holiday friends waiting to meet attendees.

“We’re going to have Santa and a bunch of his friends, some elves, a gingerbread man and a reindeer, who people will be able to take pictures with” she said.

For anyone who misses the time frame listed for the walkthrough, Centauro said there will still be an opportunity for them to take pictures with the lights.

Many people in the community show up eager to participate in the annual ugly sweater bingo party that this organization hosts, and this year is projected to be no different. The fourth annual ugly sweater bingo party will be hosted at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2718 in Franklin Square on Dec. 1 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Tickets for the bingo party cost $30 in advance and it is an event that participants must be 18 years or older to participate in.

“This is our largest bingo party,” Centauro said. “This one sells out very quickly, and this one usually fills up to just over 200 people.”

At this bingo party, she said the community gets together to raise anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 for the organization.

Each winter event that Rescuing Families hosts will also have a box to collect items for the Veteran’s Food Pantry in East Meadow, also known as the Vet Mart. There will also be boxes at the Franklin Square Public Library and the West Hempstead Public Library to collect supplies as well.

“I felt like we needed to change up from the toys, because there are so many people doing toy drives, and we needed to focus more on the population that we work with which is disabled veterans and the disabled elderly,” Centauro said.

Supplies that the pantry is looking for include food and personal care items for veterans. This includes toothpaste, shaving cream, razors, toilet paper, soap and more.

“They said it’s a challenge for them to get this pantry full for the veterans, and we want to help that along,” she said.