Getting the Christmas spirit UC mayor gives away toys and turkeys for the holidays

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Brian P. Stack Civic Association will lay out between $120,000 and $130,000 for charitable giving, said Union City Mayor Brian Stack, who founded the association.

Stack, who began donating turkeys and toys for the holidays 21 years ago, will be holding the association’s Christmas Party on Dec. 22.

The association, which recently donated about $60,000 in turkeys, is planning to give more than 12,000 toys at the party.

"I would rather be doing this than campaigning," said Stack about handing out toys.

Although Stack used to pay out of his pocket for the two drives, the money for the association’s holiday donations is now raised through a fundraiser that the Civic Association has once a year, and private donations.

The Brian P. Stack Civic Association is known for its turkey and toy drives, relocation assistance for fire victims and help in filing taxes.

Must be Santa

On Dec. 22, the association will hold its annual Christmas Party in two locations, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Park Theater located at 560 32nd Street and from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at St. Anthony’s School cafeteria located at 615 Eighth Street. All children ages 12 and under will receive gifts at the party.

"We used to only have one location, but we broke it into two for crowd control," said Stack, explaining that the line for toys used to start in the St. Anthony’s School cafeteria and wind down two blocks to Bergenline Avenue, and that the Park Theatre location is also more convenient for those families living uptown.

Stack estimates that more than 12,000 toys will be given out this year, a total far greater than the 100 toys that Stack delivered door-to-door starting on the 300 block of Eighth Street 21 years ago.

"This is my Christmas present," said Stack. "Seeing the look on the faces of the children, many of whom will receive no other toys for Christmas, as they receive their toys."

One special party

After the three five-alarm fires that left more than 40 families and 32 children homeless in Union City on Dec. 2, the Civic Association decided to hold a special Christmas party for these children.

This year the children who were victims of the fires were given Dear Santa letters to fill out with their Christmas wish list.

According to Kathy Stack, who has been working on the Christmas parties since she married her husband 15 years ago, there are toys for every child who was a victim, even the ones who did not fill out the wish list.

"Whatever they requested, they are getting," said Kathy Stack, adding that the wish lists included everything from the Barbie dream house to mountain bikes and new video game systems.

This party will be held on Dec. 21 at the Doric Recreation Center located at 906 Palisade Ave. at 6 p.m. The Doric Center is currently being used as an emergency shelter provided by the Red Cross for the families still homeless.

According to Stack, only three of the families that were displaced by these fires are still staying at the shelter. The rest of the families had been relocated.

These Christmas parties will be done in memory of Antonio Rodriguez, the president of the Brian P. Stack Civic Association who passed away on Monday.

Never enough turkeys

The Civic Association Christmas Party comes just shortly after the association donated $60,000 worth of turkeys, approximately 9,000, for needy families on Thanksgiving.

"Did we miss people? Yeah, we missed people," said Stack. "That is the hard thing. No family in Union City is wealthy. This is a blue-collar community."

Stack said that he originally started the turkey drive by handing out 100 chickens to families in his neighborhood, adding that the drive got bigger each year. Stack remembers taking out pension loans and other loans to buy the turkeys.

"I started to do it in my area," said Stack, who grew up in the downtown area of Union City. "When you go to these tenement buildings there are a lot of people living from paycheck to paycheck. If there are eight families in that building you can’t just give to one family."


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