Cars, Toys And Marines For A Good Cause


By Tab Hauser

Downtown Glen Cove was center stage for the annual U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots drive, hosted by Martino Auto Concepts on Sunday, Dec. 6. Under sunny skies and unusually warm temperatures, more than 10,000 toys were collected for the nationwide campaign.

The generosity flowed to Glen Cove as well. According to highway supervisor Keith Simpson, another 1,000 toys were collected in a separate city truck for Glen Cove’s Youth Bureau. Staff Sergeant Gomez, looking sharp in his Marine blue uniform, said that there were 10 Marines with him, deployed to help with the collection.

Santa with the U.S. Marines at the Toys for Tots Drive (Photos by Tab Hauser)

Joe LaPadula, owner of Glen Cove-based Martino Auto Concepts, was instrumental in bringing this event to Glen Cove, as he is with other charitable events held in the city throughout the year. During the summer, he hosts cruise nights to benefit the Glen Cove Volunteer Fire Department and in September heads up the Gold Coast Concours/Bimmerstock fundraiser along with Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, where $75,000 was raised for the cure-focused research of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation. For Toys for Tots, LaPadula reached out to the exotic car community.

This year, downtown was rumbling under the exhaust of more than 1,000 cars. Of these, more than one-third were of “supercar” status, costing $250,000 or more. Top end cars included a Porsche Carrera GT, a cost of $897,000, and a Ferrari valued at $1.9 million.

For the drivers to gain entry, the admission was to bring unwrapped toys for the program. Besides the drivers bringing toys during the two-hour event, area residents, organizations and businesses hauled large, open cardboard crates filled with toys to the volunteer rigs collecting them. To help load the trucks, adult volunteers on one large truck and kids on another sorted and placed the toys.

Children volunteered to help load the trucks with toys

“I am so impressed and proud of the overwhelming support surrounding the U.S. Marines Toys for Tots program,” said LaPadula. “Especially in these times, thousands of good-hearted people join together to help the less fortunate during this holiday season. Thank you to all the sponsors, participants and volunteers that helped us collect over 25,000 toys for boys and girls throughout the tristate region. I always refer to our Toys for Tots event as the ‘feel good event’ of the year.”

DeRiggi-Whitton, who helped with the event, acknowledged and thanked those involved. “I truly enjoy working with Joe LaPadula in both the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation and Toys for Tots events. He puts his heart and soul into every detail and it shows with his tremendous success. I would also like to thank the Glen Cove and Sea Cliff Fire Departments, the Glen Cove and Nassau County Police, especially Roberto Telese, EMS, and the Auxiliary Police. I would also like to thank Manny Grella from DPW for helping collect toys for local families.”

Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, Joe LaPadula, Mayor Reggie Spinello and Sgt. Gomez help at the event

Mayor Reggie Spinello, standing on a Marine Humvee, said to the crowd, “It was a pleasure to join Toys 4 Tots rally organizer Joe LaPadula and his family, Staff Sgt. Gomez and the U.S. Marines, Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, along with our council members and hundreds of exotic car drivers who came to Glen Cove for this worthy cause. I was excited to hear that over 10,000 toys were collected and that some of those toys will be gifted to our city’s children through our Youth Bureau.”

He concluded with “gentlemen, start your engines.” This led to the Glen Cove Auxiliary Police closing down traffic so that the Nassau County Police motorcycle unit could lead the convoy. First to leave were the tucks filled with toys with their sharp horns blazing; next up was the Marine Humvees, followed by a procession of screaming exhausts that took 25 minutes to empty downtown Glen Cove.

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