Christmas came early for Catholic charities when they received gifts that will help them not only ensure that New Yorkers in need have a warm coat this winter and a toy or two under the Christmas tree for their children, but will also allow the organization to continue to provide vital services to New York families devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

Timothy J. Rooney, President and CEO of Empire City Casino, made a generous donation of $500,000 to the Catholic Charities Hurricane Sandy Relief and Recovery Fund and also presented the organization with hundreds of toys and coats collected through Empire City Casino’s Annual “Christmas Spirit” Toy and Coat Drive.

Rooney was joined by State Assembly Member Shelley Mayer, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, Westchester Deputy County Executive Kevin Plunkett, Karen Reynolds, Westchester & Putnam County Supervisor, Catholic Charities Community Services, Sister Christine Hennessy, Catholic Charities Community Services, and Órla Kelleher, Executive Director, Aisling Irish Community Center.
A sampling of the items collected was on display in Empire City Casino’s Entertainment Lounge.  Rooney commended the employees of Empire City as well the customers who gave so generously to the annual drive.  Jams, a family-owned California-based company, was also thanked for its generous donation of hundreds of new toys for children in New York, as was Yonkers based Smart Move & Storage for generously providing storage for all of the items donated.
“There are no greater deeds than charity and service,” said Rooney. “The devastation New Yorkers suffered from this storm is unspeakable and they need our help,” Rooney continued. 

“Whether you donate $2 or $2,000, it will make a difference. No act of kindness or generosity is ever too small.”
While families may not be entirely shielded from the harsh realities of the current economic climate, or the devastation that Hurricane Sandy had on homes across the region, hundreds of New Yorkers will now be be shielded from the cold this winter with a warm coat.  Children, who may have otherwise gone without this coming Christmas, will now wake to a toy or two to call their very own.  And New York families in areas hard hit by Sandy will know that they can depend on the continued services of the Catholic Charities community as a result of the generosity of one of Westchester’s largest employers.
“We are grateful for Empire City Casino's generosity,” stated Monsignor Kevin Sullivan.  “This donation has enabled Catholic Charities to respond early, but will also help our commitment to assist in meeting long-term needs.”
“The Empire City Casino Toy and Coat Drive will benefit many of our clients and relieve them of a financial burden this Christmas season,” said Karen Reynolds of Westchester & Putnam Catholic Charities.
Since Sandy hit, Catholic Charities has been responding to the needs of those impacted by the hurricane's devastation.  In hard-hit neighborhoods, mobile food pantries were deployed, crucial supplies needed by survivors were delivered, and hundreds of volunteers were coordinated to help with cleanup efforts.  Working with FEMA, state and city governments, and many other organizations, Catholic Charities’ professional and compassionate staff is ensuring that families in need receive access to multiple services, including counseling, housing assistance and rapid repairs.
Rooney said that Empire City also provided direct assistance to residents after the storm.  The Casino served as a hub for Con Edison to distribute dry ice and blankets to residents in need, dispatched their culinary team to hard hit coastal areas to feed hot meals to thousands of first responders and residents, and prepared and delivered trays of hot food to area shelters.
In addition to the generous half million dollar donation to Catholic Charities, Rooney was recognized for the matching pledge he made to the Empire State Relief Fund.  After the creation of the fund was announced by Governor Cuomo, Rooney encouraged donations by pledging to match up to $100,000 of donations made to the Empire State Relief Fund.  Donations can be made at the Redemption Counter at Empire City Casino or online at by entering “ECC” in the matching code field to ensure the donation is doubled by Empire City.
"As our state recovers from the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, time and time again the generous spirit of New Yorkers is on full display with organizations, businesses, and individuals stepping up to the plate to help those in need," Governor Cuomo said. "With this donation, on top of what has already been pledged, Tim Rooney and the employees of Empire City Casino are once again pitching-in in a big way to support our ongoing relief and recovery efforts, and help those hit hard by Hurricane Sandy begin to rebuild their lives."
“I commend our friends at Empire City Casino for their generous contributions to our fellow New Yorkers,” said Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano. “During this time of Thanksgiving, we should follow Empire City’s lead and provide for those individuals suffering the most during these difficult and stressful times. There is no better time than now to lend a helping hand to our family and friends in New York.”

"I applaud Tim Rooney and the leadership of Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway for their tremendous generosity and spirit of citizenship towards the Hurricane Sandy rebuilding efforts,” said Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer.  “All of us in Yonkers are joined with our New York City neighbors during this tough time. We share the sentiments of Mr. Rooney that this is a moment for those who can to contribute to aid this critical relief effort."

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