By Rockland County Executive Ed Day
We’ve decorated the Christmas tree, lighted all eight candles on the menorah, cooked, cleaned and shopped ‘til we dropped.
Now, during this month of holidays, we can pause for a moment to reflect on what these celebrations are really about.
I just had an opportunity to experience the true spirit of the season.
A Pearl River couple who suffered the unspeakable pain of losing a child, quietly took it upon themselves to perform an act of kindness that will brighten Christmas Day for youngsters they will likely never meet.
Grace and Gregg Cosgrove unexpectedly brought 60 brand new bicycles to the Department of Social Services the weekend after Thanksgiving.
They asked that the gifts be given to children in our foster care program. We will honor that request and 60 new bicycles will be under Christmas trees waiting for these youngsters.
The Cosgroves did not want any recognition for their act of extraordinary goodness.
They made the generous gift to honor the memory of their son, Chance, who died tragically at age 12 while the family was on vacation in North Carolina.
Giving without expectation of receiving anything at all in return. Giving just to bring joy to someone – even a stranger.
That is the true meaning of the holiday season.
We see that spirit time and again in Rockland County, where people open their hearts and wallets to help those in need.
So many people and organizations in Rockland County have worked hard to make sure that the less fortunate among us are provided for during the holidays – and the rest of the year.
More than 20 groups donated good and gifts to DSS over the past several weeks to make sure that everyone in Rockland County has something to celebrate on Christmas.
They ranged from Modell’s, which donated helmets to go with the new bicycles, to local businesses like the Rockland Bakery, ShopRite, Avon, Wendy’s, the Boulders, and others.
Numerous organizations did the same, including People to People, SW Johnson Fire Company, Hillcrest Fire Department , the Kiwanis Club of White Plains, the Clarkstown Ladies Crochet Group and the National Council of Jewish Women, Rockland Chapter, just to name a few.
They made it possible for children who receive services from DSS have a happy holiday.
So many Rockland County organizations work to make sure that everyone is provided for year-round.
We were so happy to be able to fund our non-profit agencies for 2018 at $21.3 million – a record.
These non-profits include organizations that feed the hungry, like People to People, organizations that help our elderly, like Meals on Wheels, and those that assist our children, including Big Brothers Big Sisters and Child Care Resources.
And I’m proud that my administration this year opened Rockland County’s first warming center for our most hard-to-reach population, single men and women who lack steady housing.
Every winter night when the temperatures dip, they come to the warming center located in Pomona at the Dr. Robert Yeager Health Complex. Guests get a warm meal, hot shower, laundry facilities, a safe place to spend the night and, most importantly, a way to tap into the services we provide, including employment assistance.
And on Christmas Eve, any guest at the warming center will enjoy a meal there donated by several fine Rockland restaurants, including Lynch’s, Fireside Steak Pub and B’s Nest, which are donating catered food in another act of generosity.
It’s about compassion and caring for our neighbors.
It’s about sharing our bounty with those who have less.
It’s the Christmas spirit and here in Rockland County, it lasts all year.