Special Shopping Spree for 200 Foster Kids on Long Island - NBC New York

Special Shopping Spree for 200 Foster Kids on Long Island



    Christmas Comes Early for 200 L.I. Foster Kids

    Talk about a Secret Santa! Each child was treated to a $200 shopping spree at a Walmart in East Meadow. (Published Monday, Dec. 6, 2010)

    The squeals and smiles of 200 kids said it all -- this was a holiday shopping spree.

    "This is what Christmas is supposed to be about," said Marie Carson from the non-profit Education and Assistance Corporation.

    The shoppers cut loose at a Wal-Mart in East Meadow, Long Island, were all foster kids -- each from a broken family. 

    Each was handed a hundred dollars and told to buy whatever they wanted, and, for a few hours, all the challenges they have endured were cast aside.

    "These are amazing kids," said former Wall Street trader Tom Gubitosi, the man who paid for the shopping extravaganza -- as he has for the past eleven years.  

    "It's great to give to charity, to put a check in an envelope; but to see this is very exciting," said the man who dedicates his yearly act of giving to his late mother, who died of ovarian cancer.

    "She was the woman in the supermarket, if she saw a crying child, would go to that child and try to help. I know if she's looking down, she would be thrilled," said Gubitosi.

    More than a hundred volunteers helped the kids find their favorite gifts, from video games to dolls and puzzles. It was clear to all that without a day like this, many of these youngsters would have had a far different holiday season.

    "This makes me very happy," said Collin, a smiling seven year old.

    And the kids didn't just stuff shopping carts with gifts for themselves. Many bought presents for their foster parents or siblings, according to EAC officials, who helped organize the event.

    "They have big hearts," said Carson.  "Despite what has happened to them, they are still able to smile."

    A smile also never left Gubitosi's face as he watched the kids run through the toy aisles.

    "I am a selfish philanthropist," the Farmingdale man said.  "I get back a lot more than I give."