At a recent Greenpoint Chamber of Commerce meeting, Councilman Steve Levin remarked on the positive karma Eric Hall has earned from his frequent generosity to the community. During Hurricane Sandy, Levin explained, just when the surging waters reached the doorstep of Hall’s Red Star Bar, they stopped and receded, sparing him from the damage incurred by many of his neighbors.
To prepare for the next big storm, Hall is once again acquiring his special brand of flood insurance – donating his time, money and space to host The Big Brooklyn Toy Drive on Tuesday, December 4th at 7PM. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation, which provides support to individuals and organizations in need, with a primary focus on children. The foundation’s goal is to hand out 3,000 toys in the areas of Staten Island and Brooklyn hardest hit by Sandy.
For Hall and Red Star this will be their fourth holiday toy drive and by far their biggest. For the past three years, he teamed up with three customers to collect toys for charities including Columbia Presbyterian and the Ronald McDonald House. “This year,” Hall said, “we decided to step up our game and really try to save Christmas for those kids who desperately need something to smile about.” He reached out to some of his contacts, but was told they already had plans for holiday charity. “Then Sandy hit, and everybody started calling, ‘Hey! About the toy drive, I want to be on board,’ and it just snowballed from there.”
For $20, or a new toy valued at $20, guests at The Big Brooklyn Toy Drive will get a buffet, a three hour premium open bar and the chance to win raffle prizes like gift certificates from local restaurants, barber shops, hair salons and spas. Big ticket prizes include a luxury suite to a Brooklyn Nets game, a yearlong East River Ferry Pass and a three night cruise to the Caribbean for two.
Outreach for the event has also been huge with support from the Greenpoint Gazette, WG News + Arts, Mousey Brown’s Meredith Chesney, New York Shitty, Assemblyman Joe Lentol and Councilmember Steve Levin among those pitching in. East River Ferry is working the social media and Hall is running the website. “It’s been a real group effort, something everyone wants to be a part of,” he said. He expects both floors of Red Star to be filled with at least 200 party-goers.
In addition to the party, Big Brooklyn Toy Drive collection boxes have been set up all over North Brooklyn. Donations will be accepted until December 16th. A list of locations can be found on their website at http://redstarny.com/big-brooklyn-holiday-toy-drive.html. To make a financial contribution, make checks payable to The Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation and mail or drop them off at Red Star Bar (37 Greenpoint Avenue).
“People are going through a lot of stuff right now,” Hall said. “If you’re an adult, you can kind of take it on the chin, but for a kid it’s a tough pill to swallow. Being a parent myself, there isn’t a worse feeling in the world than not being able to give your kid a Christmas present, so hopefully we’ll be able to do that for a bunch of people.”