THROGS NECK, the Bronx (PIX11) — A Bronx couple is giving back to their community like they do every year by handing out dozens upon dozens of Christmas presents outside their home, but it’s not just any ordinary home.
Their brightly decorated house is hard to miss in Throgs Neck and their Christmas spirit has not dimmed despite difficult times after Hurricane Ida. Millie Stone, 76, says she loves putting this on for the neighborhood.
“It’s the joy of doing it,” she said. “It’s how it makes me feel.”
She hands out about 100 gifts to children in the neighborhood and 9-year-old Elijah Rodriguez is excited.
“I’m very into the Christmas spirit and I can’t wait until Christmas,” Rodriguez said. “I didn’t know that it was going to be this cool out here.”
Millie Stone’s husband Albert is 85 years old and puts up all the decorations himself every year.
“We never have a switch that goes out,” Millie Stone said.
Albert Stone loves the attention it brings to Swinton Avenue.
“They say ‘Mr. Stone, that’s your house by Dewey [Avenue] and Swinton [Avenue]? I like [those] lights. I’m coming down tomorrow to take some pictures.’ I say, ‘No problem,’” Albert Stone said.
But life isn’t always a pretty red bowtie for the pair. Last year, the remnants of Hurricane Ida destroyed the first floor and basement of their home.
“It’s a big loss because my family [is] not here,” Millie Stone said.
Her daughter used to live downstairs, but because they are still recovering, she had to move out. Despite these hard times, they still show up for the community.
The couple lives across NYCHA’s Throggs Neck Houses. They set out decorations and give gifts annually to put a smile on the kids’ faces who may not receive any gifts for Christmas.
“We do this every year because of how it makes us feel and to know that we are fortunate that we are able to give back to our community,” Millie Stone said.
Teenager Haileyann Cruz is from the neighborhood and feels the love.
“I feel really good to be here because knowing that everyone is going to get a gift and everyone is going to be happy makes me feel really good,” Cruz said.
An active member of her church, Millie Stone rounds up these gifts from different organizations and also purchases many of them herself.
She plans to continue this tradition long after her home will be fully recovered from Ida’s aftermath.