TBTA Employees Play Santa for Underserved Children

December 21, 2013 Updated: December 21, 2013

NEW YORK—In addition to their normal work for the city, the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority employees brought a little holiday cheer to children this year. 

For the last 26 years they have been donating presents to the New York Foundling Hospital to give to the children who the hospital supports.

Second graders from Mott Haven Academy charter school filed into the hospital’s lobby on Dec. 20. After selecting a present from the mountain of gifts piled up around Santa, they got a chance to talk to him.

“Seeing a smile on a kid’s face when he or she gets a little present, that’s Christmas,” said Santa Bob, a retired TBTA lieutenant. “And lets not forget the birth of Christ too.”

New York Foundling Hospital sponsors Mott Haven Academy, a K-5 school in the Bronx that “was intentionally planned to address the needs exhibited by students with a history of child welfare involvement,” according to its website. Beth Stellato with development relations at the hospital says two-thirds of the kids there are in foster care or preventative services.

Xander, a second-grader at Mott Haven got a Wow Wow Wubzy game and a Sponge Bob Square Pants bowling game. “My favorite part [of Christmas] is spending time with my family and getting presents,” he said.

While Christmas is about more than just presents, for these children the donations help make this time of year that much more special.

“We have 2,000 employees and it’s an ongoing thing,” said retired TBTA Sargent John Haugh who organized this year’s toy drive. “We donate all through the week because there are so many places that the Foundling has to distribute gifts to, to all their satellite agencies.”

NYFH also gives the gifts to its resident children in foster care and teen mothers with young children. 

Haugh says in past years they have delivered over 2,000 toys, and every year they try to do better.

“This is a way of giving back to the people of the city. It’s really a nice thing to do,” said Haugh.

Holly Kellum is a special correspondent in New York.

Follow Holly on Twitter: @HollyGailK