Christmas is called the most wonderful times of the year…. But not for everyone. The COVID pandemic hit those of limited resources the hardest. This is why the Mount Vernon Arts & Culture Society partnered with the Executive Director Elvira Castillo of Levister Towers to provide gifts for Levister families. Levister Towers is a housing project consisting of 488 units. It is located in the heart of the Southside of Mount Vernon and consists of one of the largest concentration of children and teens in the area. The COVID-19 pandemic and recession have disproportionately harmed people in low-income households. Systemic inequalities in employment, wage-earning, health, and well-being have been an issue for sub-populations facing poverty or near-poverty conditions. But try to explain that to a child. The expectations of children do not change. They still look forward to gifts, and toys. Children are eager to tell their friends and classmates “what they got for Christmas.”
When the Mt. Vernon Arts & Culture Society approached Elvira about helping the families of Levister, she was ecstatic. She noted that they were running short this year, particularly with gifts for teenagers. After hearing this, “We were even more determined to make this wonderful year for those that had been hit the hardest due to the virus”, said Gerrie Post, 1st Vice President of the Mt. Vernon Arts & Culture Society.
The Arts Council, as it is called, put out a clarion call for financial support. Immediately funds came in from David Gentner, CEO of Wartburg, the Lauren P. Raysor Law Office, Pastor Arthur Thomas & The Oneness Rehoboth Church, Contour Mortgage, Local Developer Dan Amicucci and the Orange Bank & Trust of Mount Vernon. Some of these institutions are household names among us and have a history of giving back.
Desiree Madison, Regional Director of Contour Mortgage, stated, “Judy asked, we immediately said yes, how could we not help this effort. Creating a balance is in our hands.”
The Monday just before Christmas the gifts started pouring in and so did the families. It was a wonderful time with volunteers from all walks of life and places. But most of all, the look on the face of the families was priceless. Teenagers were amazed that they received gift certificates to shop at major stores and retail outlets
This is what the season is about, and this is what a community that cares does. Every child deserves to smile during the holiday. A gift no matter how large or small is something that is enjoyed twice. The Mount Vernon Arts & Culture Society knows the “Art of Giving.”