Give a Toy to A Needy Child at SAGE Fundraiser 30th Annual TOYS Party
"I am so proud of what the Toys event has become -- a gathering of thousands of people in our community to form a special family of choice for one night in order to give back to the charities that touch our hearts," said Browne. "We provide over 5,000 toys to children in need and it is a blessing to be able to give them joy during the holiday season. Furthermore, SAGE has been such a huge part of my life and I am pleased that all ticket sales benefit this great organization devoted to helping LGBT elders."
Browne started the original Toys Party (known as "Toys for Tots" before the Marine Corps insisted the name be changed in 2010) in his apartment as a celebration to bring together his friends and people in the LGBT community a chance to provide holiday gifts to children.
The Holiday party started in 1985 and in 1986; Browne asked everyone to bring a gift for a needy child. He thought this would add something to the spirit of the season and the party. In 1987, Nick Poshkus joined forces with Browne to give the party. They combined their lists to invite only gay men and required each guest to wear a name tag with first and last name so that the party would be an opportunity to meet someone outside of the gym, a bar or randomly.
By asking everyone to bring a gift, all of the attendees thought of those less fortunate then they and were excited to be able to do something for children in need. There were virtually no gay parents at the time (the technology and the times were not like they are now) but the capability for love in everyone's heart was there and this was a wonderful way to express it.
People brought sleds, bicycles, Barbies and basketballs, and everyone was proud of their gifts. Some people even brought boxes of toys and one year someone delivered three van loads. Dear friends gathered every year to hand address envelopes for the invitation and the party grew and grew.
The recipients of the gifts represented a combination of organizations that the hosts knew. Many people met their longtime partners as a result of the happiness and love of giving. The party is now quite large with over 2,500 people.
SAGE was added to the holiday party in 2001 because getting older and needing help with food, blankets and transportation among other basics can be scarier than needing the same when you are young. The charity event has since blown-up into one of the hottest holiday parties for the LGBT community and provides thousands of gifts to a variety of charities as well as contributions to Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE).
All guests will bring an unwrapped toy. Donations will be distributed to the following charities: 9th Police Precinct Community Center, Ali Forney Center, Brooklyn ACE Integration Head Start, Camp Felix, God's Love We Deliver, Grace Baptist/Faith Mission, The Iris House, UWS Jericho Project/Brick Church, Youth 4 Seniors/Harlem InterAgency Council.
For the second year in a row, Ketel One will serve as presenting liquor sponsor. Barry Skovgaard serves as a Diamond Sponsor. Patron Sponsors include John Crocker and Charlie Johnston as well as Peter Lyons and Michael Finkenbine.
All proceeds and ticket sales for the event go directly to SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders), the country's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults.
The Toys Party Benefitting SAGE will be held from 5-9 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 13 at the Chelsea Piers, Pier 60.
For sponsorship opportunities and tickets, visit sageusa.org/toys