LGBT Icons and Allies Come Out for SAGE’s 31st Annual Toys Party
New York City’s most anticipated holiday party of the year benefits LGBT elders and children in need
[New York, NY] On Sunday, December 11, supporters and allies of Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) came together at Pier 60 in New York City for the 31st Annual Toys Party. Robby Browne, David Tufts and Chris Kann hosted the event, which benefits LGBT elders, as well as children, through participating charities.
Thousands of toys were collected as guests filled the venue for the special holiday celebration. Before the night was over, more than $300,000 was donated on behalf of LGBT elders. Special attendees included LGBT icons Levi Jackman Foster, Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis and longtime SAGE supporter Whoopi Goldberg.
"This special annual event is the perfect way for SAGE supporters to touch the lives of children in need," said SAGE CEO Michael Adams. "The Toys Party is another example of how SAGE prioritizes the most vulnerable among us. The gift of giving during the holiday season benefits everyone involved, especially the LGBT older adults for which SAGE is deeply committed."
Toys R Us donated a virtual mountain of toys that was augmented by gifts brought by attendees. More than 5,000 toys will be given to kids in need this holiday season. Ketel One served as presenting liquor sponsor for the third year in a row and Uber, the official transportation partner of the Toys Party, provided discounted rides to guests. Norwegian Air added a nice touch with its Aura machine, which gave guests a new way to chart their next getaway and named one lucky winner of two roundtrip tickets to Paris. Donations from the evening will be distributed to the following charities: 9th Police Precinct Community Center, The Felix Organization, Good Shepard/Catholic Guardian, Brooklyn ACE Integration Head Start, Grace Baptist/Faith Mission, Camp Felix, The Iris House and UWS Jericho Project/Brick Church.
Addressing a sea of enthusiastic partygoers, Goldberg emphasized the importance of intergenerational dialogue through SAGE Table, SAGE’s groundbreaking national program set to launch in May 2017. "This is not a fundraiser, this is a 'friendraiser.'" Said Goldberg about the new program. "SAGE is one of the most important organizations that I am aware of, and I’m proud to be a part of it. Everybody forgets when they’re younger that getting old is just around the corner. So, you have to make sure you’re looking out for those who have come before you, and appreciate what was done. On May 18, we’ll get to know each other."
Hosts Robby Browne, David Tufts and Chris Kann were in attendance, mingling with more than 2,500 guests. Kann, a distinguished real estate broker with the Corcoran Group, is both a SAGE board member and supporter through the annual Toys Party. "This party is highlight of the holiday season for many in the LGBT community. It’s a chance to get together and celebrate, and the fact that it also supports SAGE is an added bonus," said Kann.
Browne, founder and co-host of the annual event stated, "The Toys event has grown tremendously since it began 31 years ago. I’m very proud of the special family that’s formed around such an inspiring cause. Knowing that we can give so many toys to children in need during the holiday season is a true blessing. SAGE continues to be an important part of my life and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to help give back to LGBT elders through the great work that SAGE does every day."
image: Toys Party Santa with Whoopi Goldberg, Olympic Gold Medalist Greg Louganis and SAGE CEO Michael Adams. Photo credit: HeyMrJason Photography
Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) is the country's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT older people. SAGE also offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older adults and their caregivers, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBT organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and cultural competence training through SAGECare. With staff in New York City, Washington, DC and Chicago, SAGE coordinates a growing network of affiliates across the country. Learn more at sageusa.org.
ABOUT THE TOYS PARTY Robby 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, he 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 Robby 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 brough 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 2500 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).