PARAMUS, N.J. – After graduating college, Christine Ghassali of Paramus had what she called “some self doubts.”
“I was kind of just trying to figure out real life,” she said.
Then she realized “nothing would make me feel better than to do something for somebody else,” she said.
At just 21 years old, and with the help and encouragement of her boyfriend Petey Aiosa of Lodi, Ghassali formed “The Joys of Toys.”
Since creating the organization in 2015, Ghassali has collected more than 600 toys and donated them to local children’s hospitals and abused and neglected children around the holiday season.
“This year, I wanted to expand the organization and really do something not just toys, and not just during the holiday season,” Ghassali, now 23, told Daily Voice.
With the help of Aiosa, who is now her fiancé, Ghassali is planning her very first fundraiser. The event will raise funds for the care of Jason and Justin Leider – a pair of young Elmwood Park brothers who suffer from Hunter Syndrome , a rare genetic disease.
Ghassali is throwing an 80’s night themed fundraiser at Blue 42 Restaurant and Bar in Elmwood Park on Saturday, July 22 from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Attendees are encouraged to dress up, and the evening will feature a live 80’s band, she said. And 20 percent of the bar’s proceeds from the night will go straight to “Jason and Justin’s Journey,” to help with the boys’ medical expenses.
Ghassali said she hopes the event sparks more people to do things to give back to others.
“If there is anything I want the most out of this, it is for this to motivate somebody else,” she said.
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