BED-STUY, Brooklyn (PIX11) – Stephen Decatur Middle School 35 in Bed-Stuy transformed into a winter wonderland full of gifts for the second year in a row, with $10,000 worth of presents waiting to be handed out to the students.
“Our students’ faces are lit up, and we are so, so happy to be a part of this,” principal Jacklyn Marcus said.
Brooklyn native and business owner Salvatore Stile made the generous donation in honor of his late father, Salvatore Stile Sr., who graduated from middle school in 1949 and died of COVID-19 in 2020.
“He always would refer during my childhood of the fond memories he had at this school, and he always wanted to come back and share his stories,” Stile Jr. said. “Unfortunately, he never had the opportunity to come to this school, so I wanted to come back in his honor and continue a tradition I think he’d love to be a part of.”
Stile Jr. said M.S. 35 was his father’s last formal education that gave him the skills to believe in himself despite adversity and financial hardship. Stile Sr. sold newspapers in the subway system to support his family, and his son hoped stories like these resonated with the young students.
FDNY firefighters also took part in the Christmas spirit by handing out gifts.
“It’s great to come out to something that there’s no emergency, and we can actually be involved giving away something positive and helping their Christmases along,” said Uniformed Firefights Association president Andrew Ansbro.
The students also requested what gift they wanted, and those wishes were met.
“I really like what I got,” said 6th grader Mia May. “It’s cool that they did all this for all the kids because some kids don’t really celebrate Christmas [nor] get what they [want], so it’s good that they did all this for the kids.”
Stiles Jr. plans to put this event on for many more years to come so that the students have presents and special memories from the school.