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NYC Service Provides Over 3,400 Children and Families with Gifts this Holiday Season

December 20, 2018

Secret Snowflake – an NYC Service gift giving initiative in partnership with ACS, DSS, DHS, and ENDGBV – engages private sector and City employees to answer hand written letters from NYC children and families in need

NEW YORK— Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Chief Service Officer Patricia Eng announced that NYC Service has engaged nearly 2,000 volunteers to answer letters from 3,400 New York City children and families in need this holiday season through Secret Snowflake, a holiday gift giving initiative. Secret Snowflake recruits over 150 City employees as well as private sector employees from nearly 30 NYC businesses and matches them with thousands of youth and families across the City. NYC Service supplements these gifts with donations from more small and large businesses across the city and received 2,100 in-kind donations this year. Secret Snowflake has served over 13,000 New York City children through answered letters and in kind donations over the last five years.

“Secret Snowflake reminds us of how acts of kindness can make a real impact for many children and families in our City,” said Mayor de Blasio. “I want to thank the nearly 2,000 volunteers who answered letters, as well as all the businesses who donated to make this holiday season brighter for thousands of New Yorkers. I also commend our City agencies for growing this initiative and inspiring our City to give back.”

“Secret Snowflake is a tradition that I’m honored to be part of, alongside a dedicated community of service-minded people in this spirit of giving,” said NYC Chief Service Officer Patricia Eng. “NYC Service is proud to partner with our sister agencies on this important initiative and I want to thank the thousands of volunteers from across the city that have are helping put smiles on the faces of thousands of children and families.  That is what it looks like when 8.6 million New Yorkers work together to serve each other.” 

Secret Snowflake relies on the support of City agency partners to fulfill the holiday wishes of children and families in need. The Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), the Department of Social Services (DSS), the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), and the Mayor’s Office to End Gender-Based Violence (ENDGBV) collect letters from children and families served by their agencies before the holiday season.

The holidays are a time to make children in our city feel special,” said Administration for Children’s Services Commissioner David Hansell. “Secret Snowflake engages New Yorkers to spread joy to children and families in need. I want to thank NYC Service and all the volunteers for giving back to our young people in care.”

“The Secret Snowflake program highlights the values of New York City by spreading joy and kindness to those who need it the most,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks.  “We are proud to join other City agencies and private entities participating in this initiative to give back to children in need in the true spirit of the holidays.”

“Thanks to NYC Service’s Secret Snowflake initiative, more than 1,000 children experiencing homelessness will receive toys, books, clothing and school supplies this holiday season,” said Department of Homeless Services Administrator Joslyn Carter. “Homelessness affects every neighborhood in our City, and we are grateful for New Yorkers’ dedication to spreading the holiday spirit through generosity and compassion for neighbors in need.”

“Our office is proud to partner with so many others in making special wishes come true for our youngest New Yorkers,” said Commissioner Cecile Noel of the Mayor's Office to End Gender-Based Violence. “This important collaboration is one of many ways that we honor our commitment to supporting survivors and their families during the holiday season.” 

The Mayor’s Office for International Affairs also engages the diplomatic community in service during the holidays. This year, participants included the Permanent Missions of Afghanistan, Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Colombia, Fiji, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Montenegro, New Zealand, Peru, Russian Federation, Singapore, and Sweden. The Consulates General of Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Lebanon, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Seychelles, and Singapore also participated, along with the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations in New York, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, the United Nations, and members of the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs.

“The Secret Snowflake initiative offers us the opportunity each year to engage with the world’s largest diplomatic community to help bring joy to vulnerable New Yorkers,” said Mayor’s Office for International Affairs Commissioner Penny Abeywardena. “This year, representatives from more than 25 countries and international organizations collected gifts for over 175 youth and their families. We appreciate the generosity of our international partners, and we are grateful for this annual chance to serve the local communities of New York City in celebration of the season.”

2018 Business Partners (Employees Answered Letters)

Allen & Co.


Neuberger Berman




New York Life

SL Green Realty

American Airlines


Nexstar Digital


Axis Capital






New York Mets

Turner Construction

BSE Global


New York City Football Club (NYCFC)




New York Times

Zwanger-Pesiri Radiology

2018 In-Kind Donors

Artist & Craftsman Supply

Books of Wonder

Greenlight Books


Akashic Books




Blick Art Materials

Ernst Young (EY)


Oracle NetSuite

Books Are Magic

Europa Editions

JP Morgan Chase


“Brookfield is proud to partner with NYC Service and the Mayor’s Office on the Secret Snowflake initiative for the 10th consecutive year,” said Katie Kinney, Head of Corporate Philanthropy, Brookfield in New York. “This year, 238 Brookfield employees are fulfilling 476 letters for young people in all five boroughs, nearly twice as many as we did last year. It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to give back, and we are grateful to participate.”

“Greenlight Bookstore is proud to participate in this program for the third year in a row,” said Rebecca Fitting and Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, Co-Owners of Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn. “Thanks to the generosity of our customers and our publishing partners, each year our donations have grown. We were proud to be able to donate over 1,000 books this year. Having books in your life, especially during the formative years as a child, is incredibly important and we are happy to help ensure that NYC children receive books as holiday gifts as a part of this NYC Service program.”

“Every year Mizuho employees look forward to participating in the Secret Snowflake initiative and brightening the holidays for families in New York City,” said Lesley Palmer, Managing Director, Community Relations, Mizuho Americas. “Thank you NYC Service for creating a holiday tradition that benefits some of our city’s most vulnerable children.”

“As a charter member of NYC Service’s Good for Me. Good for My City. campaign, NYCFC is proud to participate in NYC Service’s Secret Snowflake for the third year in a row,” said Paul Jeffries, Director of Community Development, New York City Football Club. “We are always looking for ways to bring together our staff, fans, players and partners to support the local NYC community. It’s a lovely initiative to help meet simple needs of children in NYC’s foster care and shelters and hopefully bring more smiles to their faces over this holiday season.”

“We at Zwanger-Pesiri Radiology feel blessed and fortunate that we were able to provide the children of NYC with the holiday they deserve,” said Chante' Jordan, VP of Marketing, Zwanger-Pesiri Radiology.

About NYC Service
NYC Service is a division of the Office of the Mayor which promotes volunteerism, engages New Yorkers in service, builds volunteer capacity and mobilizes the power of volunteers and national service members to impact New York City's greatest needs. The vision is to inspire and empower all New Yorkers to serve their City and each other through New York City’s nonprofits businesses, and city agencies. For more information and to find an opportunity to #ServeNYC, visit

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