World Vision joins NYPD to bring harmony to the Bronx

Story & photos by Austin Price, Intern

On one of the hottest days of the summer, more than 4,000 children gathered at Van Cortlandt Park for the annual NYPD Bronx Harmony Day Picnic. Most of the children came from summer camps and programs in the Bronx, making it the largest Harmony Day in the event's nearly 30-year history in all five boroughs.

Children line up at the World Vision photo booth at the annual NYPD Bronx Harmony Day Picnic.

Children line up at the World Vision photo booth at the annual NYPD Bronx Harmony Day Picnic.

The event included all the elements of a summer festival: football, volleyball, an inflatable moonwalk, food, and carnival games with prizes and giveaways. Kids could "dunk a cop" with a well-aimed softball pitch, or represent their camp in a dance contest. Each child went home with a collection of gifts from generous donors and sponsors, including World Vision.

Many children lined up at the World Vision photo booth, where they could have their picture taken with funny props and masks. Some World Vision staff members tossed a football around with older children.

On a typical day, World Vision in the Bronx and the NYPD vastly differ in their approaches to the community. Yet, Harmony Day reveals one goal of the NYPD that coincides with World Vision's: to build a better world for children. In law enforcement's case, it tries to improve the lives of children and families through protection and safety — and on Harmony Day, through fun and festivity as well.

Children line up at the World Vision photo booth at the annual NYPD Bronx Harmony Day Picnic.

Staff members of World Vision's Greater New York field site and the NYPD smile after unloading a World Vision truck with items for Bronx Harmony Day. From left: Sigfrido "Jeff" Padilla of World Vision, Lt. Lorraine Perez, Officer Miguel Caldero, World Vision warehouse manager Jaime Lopez-Gopar, and Officer Eliu Feliciano.

For nearly a decade, World Vision has maintained a close relationship with the NYPD on the basis of this shared goal. The Bronx Harmony Day Picnic is an annual event on World Vision's calendar. The Greater New York staff organizes a gift-in-kind contribution to be distributed as carnival prizes — volunteers pack bags donated by HealthFirst with toys, comic books, sticker books, and other items — along with a free gift for each child attending.

Earlier in the summer, the NYPD awarded World Vision's Greater New York field site with its Harmony Spirit Award to commemorate World Vision's contributions to Harmony Day events in the past.

"I wouldn't even know how to begin a word of gratitude," says Lt. Lorraine Perez of NYPD Community Affairs, "but without each and every one of our sponsors, this event could not exist."

 

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