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Here’s a rare find: a Christian-based mission that doesn’t want anything to do with the merry old elf in the big red suit.
This year, as with every holiday season, guys in fluffy white beards need not apply at the Salt & Sea Mission, 1530 Mermaid Avenue, in Coney Island %u2013 unless they want to dish out meals like everyone else.
“We don’t celebrate Santa at the Mission,” Pastor Debbie Santiago wrote in a recent newsletter. “We have Happy Birthday Jesus celebrations.”
The Salt & Sea Mission has a very sound reason why Santa isn’t mentioned.
“How would you feel as a child growing up in a low income single parent household, with dad or mom on drugs or/and alcohol with every penny spent on addiction,” she explained. “Santa says you must be ‘good’ and ‘naughty or nice.’ That child wakes up Christmas morning with no gift. Would that make you feel good or bad?
“What a horrible way for a child to grow up %u2013 hearing songs and sayings that tell them only the good kids get gifts,” she continued. “It’s just one more way to beat kids up. When other kids talk about what Santa brought them, what can they say? Are they embarrassed? Knocked down emotionally? Children’s feelings are extremely delicate to begin with.”
Yet don’t think that the Mission isn’t in the spirit of giving. Needy children who come to the mission are always given something at their Happy Birthday Jesus celebrations.
To wit, they need the public’s help in providing something to this year’s Mission visitors.
“We need your help to get board games, sports items, iPods, gloves, hats, scarves, socks (children and adults) candles, perfume, cologne and gift cards.”
Anyone wishing to donate something can contact the Mission at (718) 372-3576 or visit their new Web site at www.saltandseamission.org.
Just in time for Christmas: a reminder that you’re getting screwed at your bank’s ATM.
The common practice of banks charging a second fee when they use another bank’s ATM has become so prevalent that U.S. Senator Charles Schumer called on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernake to address the problem.
During a press conference on Sunday, Schumer said that ATM fees have jumped by 13 percent in the last year. What’s worse is that 72 percent of banks charge their customers every time they use another bank’s ATM, in addition to whatever fees are being charged by the ATM itself, in a practice known as “double dipping.”
“During a shopping season when consumers are strapped for cash and struggling to make ends meet, we need to bring some sanity back to ATM withdrawals,” said Schumer. “[Bernake] already agreed to look at the overall problem of rising ATM fees, and today I’m calling on him to focus specifically on this double dipping practice so no one is forced to pay $4 when they are trying to withdraw $20 of their own money.”
According to a recently released study by Bankrate.com, average customers are charged $1.32 when they take out money from another bank’s ATM. This is in addition to the fee that consumers pay the owner of the ATM for the withdrawal. The study also showed that the average fee banks charge non-customers rose 12.6 percent in the last year to $2.22.
The city Department of Transportation (DOT) is finishing work on the Belt Parkway between Fresh Creek Basin and Paerdegat Basin Bridge this month.
Lanes were closed overnight as workers completed a resurfacing project on the westbound roadway of the Paerdegat Basin Bridge. Workers installed new asphalt and pavement markings.
DOT says, “New applications of asphalt will bring improvements to the riding surface across all three westbound lanes of the Paerdegat Basin Bridge.”
The project is part of the Belt Parkway Bridge Reconstruction Program, which began in fall 2009.
Brooklyn parents are sending that message to state legislators in hope that public schools won’t lose funding due to the faltering economy.
“CEJ (Coalition for Educational Justice) understands that the state is in a serious budget crisis but this is not the time to take needed resources away from our children.In fact, it is a time when they need them the most,” said Lenore Brown, a Brooklyn parent and member of the CEJ, which is an alliance of parent organizations and community groups including Make the Road by Walking, Cypress Hills Advocates for Education and ACORN.
“Education is the key to our economic recovery,” said Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE). “Our courts have already determined that for decades the state has left too many school children in underfunded schools in order to balance the state budget. The court-ordered solution to ensure every child’s opportunity to learn has already been delayed due to the fiscal crisis, taking money back now would have been unacceptable.”
With the understandable commotion in Albany over the state’s budget crisis and divisions wrought by civil rights legislation, at least one piece of legislation appears to be working.
Last year, Brooklyn Assemblymember Joseph Lentol (D-Williamsburg) introduced legislation seeking to prevent sex crimes by prohibiting sex offenders from abusing use of the internet. The Electronic Securing and Targeting of Online Predators Act (“e-STOP”) enabled a sweep of popular social networking Web sites such as Facebook and Myspace, which has removed 3,500 New York State registered sex offenders from their Web sites.
“The Internet is a tool to obtain information, but it has also been a tool for sexual predators to prey on their victims. e-STOP has made New York the first state to require strict regulation of sex offenders’ Internet use. The success of the legislation has been measured by the outstanding efforts of Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and other law enforcement agencies that have collaborated together in this endeavor to make the internet safer,” said Lentol.
Of those noted in the sweep, 177 of the 3,500 registered sex offenders are Brooklyn residents.
“With the success of this legislation, we have sent a clear message to sex offenders that their cloak of anonymity has been removed and the internet will not be their private hunting ground to prey on victims any longer.Nothing is more important that protecting the innocent from sexual predators — especially children,” Lentol added.
The more the city budget axe is wielded, apparently, the longer borough trees will have to wait for the pruning blade to hit.
As in previous lean times, the pruning cycle is now no longer seven years, as it was when the city was flush with funds.
The lengthening of the wait was confirmed for Community Board 14, which has received numerous requests from area residents, by Philippe Pereira, manager of operations for the city’s Department of Parks & Recreation, in an email sent in advance of the December meeting of the board’s Community Environment Committee.
“At the beginning of this fiscal year,” read out District Manager Doris Ortiz from Pereira’s note, “our block pruning budget was reduced.
“As we do not fully know what our expense budget will be for the next fiscal year, our pruning map is updated to include the current fiscal year only,” Pereira added in his brief missive.
The pruning cycle doesn’t apply to potentially dangerous conditions, Pereira went on. “If residents are concerned about the safety of their trees, they should call 311,” he wrote. “The Brooklyn Forestry Office will inspect the situation, and address any hazards as appropriate.”
Free or low-cost spay/neuter services
The ASPCA will be bringing its mobile spay/neuter clinic to several Brooklyn locations for the remainder of the year.
The service is available at low-cost or free for pet owners who bring proof they are getting public assistance.
The services mobile clinic unit will be available in Flatlands on the corner of Avenue N and 52st Street on Saturday, Dec. 19; in Bay Ridge at Cittie Pitties on 60th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues on Sunday, Dec. 20; and on Sunday, Dec. 20 in Greenpoint at the Petland, 846 Manhattan Avenue.
The Mobile unit usually arrives around 8 a.m., and pets are seen first come, first served.
A new study shows that more 99,000 Brooklyn households were either unable to obtain enough food for their families or uncertain of having enough food %u2013 the highest number citywide.
According to the report compiled from the office of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, these households are considered food insecure %u2013 meaning that these families do not reliably know when or from where the next meal will come.
As a result, Gillibrand is cosponsoring legislation that would double federal funding from $250 to $500 million for emergency food programs, including food pantries and soup kitchens in the next calendar year that provides these services to families in need.
New York Cares Executive Director Gary Bagley and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz last week urged Brooklynites to donate coats to the 21st Annual New York Cares Coat Drive.
At a Dec. 3 event at Borough Hall, Brooklyn students from Believe Northside and Southside Charter High Schools in Williamsburg and Brooklyn Excelsior Charter School in Bedford-Stuyvesant placed coats that they collected at their schools into a drop-off box.
Representatives from sponsor Health Plus, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium, and Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery and Grill were also on hand to help with the donations — as was a live walrus from the aquarium.
New York Cares hopes to collect more than 70,000 coats for New Yorkers in need by New Year’s Day.For a full list of collection sites, please visit www.newyorkcares.org.
Wondering what’s been going on at the Marine Parkway Bridge?
According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Bridges and Tunnels division, the agency has been conducting multiple maintenance and inspection lifts, from Dec. 7-11. The work took place during off-peak hours,10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Traffic in either direction was halted so that the lift span could be raised on several occasions during the time frame; each lift took approximately 15 minutes.
To send in tips, e-mail email@example.com attn: Borough Briefs.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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