“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” – Tenant Deborah Koenigsberger and Her Elves

January 7, 2020

On September 21, 1897 when the Townsend and St. James were brand spanking new, the most famous editorial of all time appeared in the New York’s Sun, in response to a small girl who was told by her friends there was no Santa Claus. Francis Pharcellus Church wrote an unsigned editorial saying:

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.”  (The full letter can be found here)

That quote seems to sum up the spirit of Deborah Konigsberger and Hearts of Gold’s Santa Workshop. You may have wondered what was going on in the empty retail space in 1123 Broadway. Deborah and her team were collecting items to give to homeless children and their mothers at Christmastime.

We stopped in one day and were struck by the scale of the operation and the number of packages being assembled. We asked Deborah about the program, and here is what we found out.

The project delivered 400 bags of presents for children 4-6 who are in assistant programs for homeless families.

Each package contained:

  • Two or Three Toys
  • Two Books
  • A Stuffed Animal
  • A Candy Cane
  • A Winter Coat
  • A Hat
  • A Scarf
  • Gloves

We were surprised to see that the items were gift wrapped inside the bag for each child. Deborah who clearly understands children, told us, ”After all, the joy is ripping the wrapping off.”

Think about the effort: Everything had to be acquired, separated by gender, age, and size — yes, for each individual child. Then, they had to be sorted, wrapped, bagged and organized by the project the children participate in, and finally delivered.  And you think one present each for the 12 people on your shopping list is a lot!

Additionally, not to leave Mom out, the Santa Workshop also provided small bags for each Mom containing a hat, gloves, scarf, along with pampering niceties such as self-care products, and a piece of jewelry.

The project is the brainchild of and is managed by Deborah, a tenant whose shop Noir et Blanc (7 West 25th Street) offers exciting women’s fashion.  She also heads the not-for-profit Hearts of Gold and its thrift shop—The Thrifty Hog (11 West 25th Street).

Deborah is the project’s hardest working volunteer—and that is saying something, because she told us how much she appreciates all the time donated by 60 to 70 volunteers who helped. Looking at the few pictures we have of the gift giving, one can see the utter joy Santa Claus brought to the children…, and to the good hearts that made their Christmas so happy.

Hearts of Gold  helps homeless mothers and their children transition out of the shelters and into permanent homes. To find about more about its work visit the Hearts of Gold website (heartsofgold.org/).