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Marshall doles out $7K in sport gift certificates

Young members of local Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and other youth organizations were on hand at Long Island City’s Queensbridge Houses Saturday morning as Borough President Helen Marshall handed out more than $7,000 in gift certificates for sporting equipment.

“In spite of these difficult financial times, we cannot neglect our youth,” Marshall said. “I know and understand that so much of a child’s development happens outside the home and outside the school.”

The event was part of the borough president’s “Marshall Plan,” an initiative to increase the recreational services for children living in Queens’ 15 public housing developments.

The gift certificates were redeemable at Modell’s Sporting Goods, which contributed $850 toward the program. There are 12 Modell’s stores in Queens.

But the lion’s share of the funds came from the borough president’s discretionary funds, she said.å

“With the warm weather upon us and outdoor activity increasing, these certificates can be used to purchase baseballs, basketballs and soccer balls and other equipment that will help our youngsters have an active and healthy summer.”

Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Sunnyside) took time out from the ongoing legal efforts to save Engine Co. 261 in Long Island City from closure to be present at the event.

The gathering took place in front of the Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement, a community center tucked in the center of the sprawling Queensbridge development. No building in the public housing complex is taller than six stories, but the development with more than 3,000 apartments is the largest of its kind in the United States. It spans six avenue blocks and two street blocks just north of the Queensboro Bridge.

Unlike many housing projects, Queensbridge provides some open space in which youngsters can play.

One recipient of the gift certificates was Youth & Tennis, a Jamaica-based organization that has taught the game to children for more than 30 years. Youth & Tennis received $750 worth of gift certificates.

Marshall said she was particularly interested in funding Youth & Tennis because the organization — though coeducational — served mostly females.

“So little of our recreation dollars go to girls,” she told the audience in an aside from her prepared remarks.

Reach reporter Alex Ginsberg by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

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