NYC Service in-Kind Donation Program Reaches Nearly 14,000 Youth

NYC Service in-Kind Donation Program Reaches Nearly 14,000 Youth

By Forum Staff

For the second year in a row, the NYC Service Secret Snowflake program has coordinated a record number of volunteers to donate to approximately 13,969 young people – the most youth served in the 15-year history of the donation program and almost three times as many youth served compared to 2022.

The Secret Snowflake program, which began organizing efforts to donate individualized items for youth in need in August 2023, on Thursday marked the close of the winter in-kind donation initiative with a final distribution to youth and their families seeking asylum at a shelter in midtown.

The Secret Snowflake program reached nearly 14,000 young people and their families in the care of City agencies including New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS), New York City Public Schools (NYCPS), Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender Based Violence (ENDGBV), and New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA). Since last year, the program has also supported youth served by NYC Health + Hospitals, with this agency representing more than half of youth served—7,689 youth ages 0-14 years old served at a Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers (HERRCs).

The combined contributions of more than 5,500 employees at 41 businesses represent over 80% of all contributions. Businesses committed to engaging their employees in the donation program in September and have since partnered closely with NYC Service and other agencies to respond to the needs of young people. This year 11 new businesses came forward to partner with NYC Service, joining the 30 businesses returning to participate in the program. By October of this year, businesses quickly fulfilled the 6,280 letters submitted by youth in need and served by ACS, DHS, NYCPS, ENDGBV, and HRA.

Organized groups played a significant role in galvanizing networks to donate items to youth served through the Secret Snowflake initiative. Mayor’s Office employees, as well as staff from other City agencies, contributed donations to the program as part of the annual Mayor’s Office winter donation drive. The Mayor’s Office of International Affairs, a long-time partner in supporting the in-kind donation program, organized 179 donations from the diplomatic community. This year, houses of worship and faith-based groups partnered to serve youth through the Secret Snowflake Initiative, adding more than 500 donations from their congregations and communities. Coalition for the Homeless also donated 250 new umbrella strollers for families seeking asylum as part of the Secret Snowflake initiative.

Bulk donations and cash donations this year helped expand the reach of youth served through Secret Snowflake. Books are Magic and Greenlight Bookstore, both located in Brooklyn, together engaged customers to donate a combined 679 books in both English and Spanish for youth in HERRCs, and 1,022 books for youth served by ACS. Huron Consulting Group received a grant to secure donations for 2,985 youth seeking asylum at HERRCs. The Henry Chang Foundation, a foundation comprised of DCAS employees that was created to honor a former DCAS stationary engineer who passed in the line of duty, helped secure donations for more than 1,380 youth in shelter with a contribution to the Secret Snowflake initiative.

“I often say that if New Yorkers committed themselves to one hour of service a week, the results would be transformative,” said Mayor Eric Adams. “Everyone who participated in Secret Snowflake has made a tremendous difference in young New Yorkers’ lives through a small act of kindness, and I’m grateful for that.”


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