West Harlem Development Corporation’s second annual Community Holiday Celebration and Toy Giveaway gave away 600 toys to a crowd of 710 people on December 6. 2014 at The Riverside Church.
The free holiday variety show entertained the crowd with musical and dancing acts representing this year’s theme: Celebrating West Harlem’s Diversity during the Holidays. A mariachi band, El Infante Mariachi, delighted guests as they signed in, and five other acts of gymnasts (Wendy Hilliard Foundation), merengue dancers (Danza Fiesta), a holiday choir (Harlem School of the Arts’ Dorothy Maynor Singers) and energetic youth dancers (National Dance Institute’s Celebration Team) kept the audience moving.
At one point, Dances for a Variable Population, a multi-generational dance company that enriches senior citizens’ lives, spilled out into the crowd, getting the entire audience dancing. Most of the performers are WHDC grant recipients that provide services to the West Harlem/Community District 9 area.
Special thanks to the Riverside Church and all of the performers for helping make the event such a success. This year’s celebration built on last year’s success of hosting 500 residents and giving away 200 toys: WHDC was able to host 710 people and give away 600 more toys to children, some of whom were put on a waiting list to receive toys after the performance.
West Harlem Development Corporation implements the Community Benefits Agreement signed with Columbia University. The organization’s mission is to promote increased economic opportunities and quality of life to sustain a vibrant West Harlem community.