Event in honor of slain NYPD detective aims to bring holiday joy to needy children
For the third year in a row, the Detective Rafael Ramos Foundation will be making the holidays brighter for hundreds of kids, all in honor of one of New York's finest who made the ultimate sacrifice. The fundraiser for the annual toy drive kicked off Friday night in Bushwick.
Five years ago, on Dec. 20 Detectives Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were shot and killed execution-style while sitting in their patrol car. From that darkness, the Detective Rafael Ramos Foundation has been a source of hope.
Ramos' widow Maritza has organized the toy drive for the past three years.
At the fundraiser, people had the chance to buy a ticket to support the cause as well as donate unwrapped presents.
"We started off with a smaller school and then last year we did a school, I think we gave away 700 toys and this year we have an even bigger school, which I think is going to be about 800 toys," Maritza Ramos said.
Several stars of the show "Gotham," as well as actor Joseph Sikora from the Starz series "Power," attended the event to support the cause.
"I think giving gifts to kids in the community is hugely important. it normalizes kids that aren't going to necessarily receive as many gifts as other kids in nearby communities, kids they see on television. It lets them feel like I'm somebody, I deserve something," Sikora said.
The goal of the event is to make the first interaction between a police officer and children a positive one.
"We collect toys for children and then when we deliver the toys, it'll be police officers giving these children toys, and in some instances some of these kids would not be opening Christmas toys on Christmas," said "Gotham" actor JW Cortes, who is also a board member of the Detective Rafael Ramos Foundation.
Later this month, the toys will be given to P.S. 65 in Cypress Hills where there will also be activities such as face painting and games for children.