BY TRONE DOWD
Performers, volunteers and members of the faith community, including the PS 136 chorus and hip-hop superstar LL Cool J, took to Merrick Boulevard to celebrate the Christmas season and bring awareness to a noble Southeast Queens tradition.
Organized by Greater Allen AME Cathedral in Jamaica, the annual “Miracle on Merrick Boulevard” Christmas event was held in front of the church building last Thursday. In an effort to give back to the community and those in need, the congregation distributes goods like toys and non-perishable foods to those less fortunate during the holiday season. This year marked the fourth time the Southeast Queens church held the charitable event.
“There are families who don’t have access to what they need,” Rev. Floyd Flake, pastor of Greater Allen, said. “As a church, we want them to provide some assistance during the Christmas season.”
LL Cool J, a Hollis native and recent recipient of the Kennedy Center Honor, joined the church in handing out the goods and took pictures with volunteers, elected officials and church leaders. The kids of PS 136 in Jamaica also stopped by to sing spirited Christmas carols to passersby.
Assemblyman Clyde Vanel said that he was proud to see the tradition continue in Southeast Queens.
“Seeing the neighborhood gather amongst each other was very special,” Vanel said. “That’s why it’s very important to assemble and nurture the community. Pastors Floyd and Elaine Flake have contributed so much to the community.”
Greater Allen told the PRESS of Southeast Queens that the church served a record number of people during this year’s event. A total of 1,100 families benefited from the holiday giveaway, with a staggering 2,300 toys given out to children in need. Overall, 275 volunteers took part in helping the church including students from Christ The King High School in Middle Village, PS 136, The Eagle Academy for Young Men in Jamaica, members of the NYPD and their Explorers program and the Target retail stores who served as one of the main sponsors of the event. Greater Allen also worked alongside nonprofits City Harvest and Feed The Children.