On Wednesday, November 16, Deputy Bronx Borough President Aurelia Greene joined John Calvelli, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo; Lenny Caro, President of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce and children from P.S. 205 at the Bronx Zoo’s Elephant house to kick-off the zoo’s annual holiday toy drive, co-sponsored by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. In honor of the start of the holiday season, students from P.S. 205 donated the first toys of the year.

Animals at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s zoos and aquarium always have food to eat and toys to keep them happy, but many New Yorkers aren’t as fortunate.

The Wildlife Conservation Society continues its participation in the Borough Presidents’ toy drives and the City Harvest food drive at all five of its wildlife parks to ensure a happy holiday for families in the communities they serve. Both of these programs provide families in need with food throughout winter and toys for their children during the holidays.

“The Wildlife Conservation Society is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the Borough Presidents, the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, Bronx Toys, and City Harvest to give back to the communities that have never waivered in their support of WCS and our zoos and aquarium,” said John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs.  “The toy drives and the food drive are truly worthy causes. We are proud to play a role in making the holidays more enjoyable for families in need of a helping hand.”

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said, “Every family deserves to be happy, especially during the holidays. By donating a toy that will put a smile on a child’s face or donating food items to help feed families in need, New Yorkers can help make the season a little brighter for hundreds of families throughout the city.”

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz said, “As someone who grew up in poverty, I know how a new toy or nutritious food can bring a smile to the face of our residents in need. Bravo to the Wildlife Conservation Society for expanding its toy and food drive to all five of its wildlife parks, and my office is proud to work alongside City Harvest and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park Zoo and New York Aquarium in helping to enrich the lives of Brooklynites and New Yorkers—this holiday season and throughout the year.”

Through the end of December, the zoos and aquarium will collect toys for underprivileged children. Visitors can bring their new, unwrapped toys to designated drop-off points at each of the WCS parks for distribution by the Borough Presidents’ offices.

WCS is also partnering with City Harvest to collect food for underprivileged New Yorkers. Food collected from food drive helps provide nutritious meals every day to people in New York City who turn to food assistance programs. City Harvest needs a variety of canned, packaged and nonperishable foods to feed people in need. Some of the most-needed foods include canned fruit, canned vegetables, peanut butter (plastic jars), macaroni and cheese (packaged), hot and cold cereal (packaged, family-size).*

In appreciation for their generosity, those that make a qualifying donation of a new, unwrapped toy and/or ten food items between Saturday, Nov. 19 and Saturday, Dec. 31 will receive a ticket to the Bronx Zoo or the New York Aquarium.**

For more information, please visit wcs.org/foodtoydrive

The Wildlife Conservation Society would like to thank the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, Bronx Toys for their generosity and support of the toy and food drives.

*City Harvest cannot accept: unlabeled or dented cans, any open packaging, products that need to be refrigerated, homemade foods, or expired products.

**Disclaimer: One general admission ticket to the Bronx Zoo will be provided for a donation of one new, unwrapped toy OR for every 10 food items at the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo or Queens Zoo. One general admission ticket to the New York Aquarium will be provided for a donation of one new, unwrapped toy OR for every 10 food items at the New York Aquarium. Limit of four tickets per family, valid 1/01/12–6/30/12. Food items must be canned, packaged and/ or nonperishable foods — perishable items are not permitted. All WCS decisions final. For details on donation food items go to wcs.org/foodtoydrive. Promotion available from 11/19/11–12/31/11. May not be combined with any other offer.

City Harvest – Now serving New York City for more than 25 years, City Harvest (cityharvest.org) is the world’s first food rescue organization, dedicated to feeding the city’s hungry men, women, and children. This year, City Harvest will collect 30 million pounds of excess food from all segments of the food industry, including restaurants, grocers, corporate cafeterias, manufacturers, and farms. This food is then delivered free of charge to nearly 600 community food programs throughout New York City using a fleet of trucks and bikes as well as volunteers on foot. Each week, City Harvest helps over 300,000 hungry New Yorkers find their next meal.

City Harvest also addresses issues that surround hunger in New York City by supporting affordable access to nutritious food in low-income communities, educating individuals, families, and communities in the prevention of diet-related diseases, channeling a greater amount of fresh produce into high-need areas, and enhancing the ability of agency partners to feed hungry men, women, and children.

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide.  We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo.  Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony.  WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. www.wcs.org.

Special Note to the Media: If you would like to guide your readers or viewers to a web link where they can support these projects, please direct them to: www.wcs.org/donation.