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‘I give because I know what it’s like to have nothing’: Bronx native celebrates 24 years delivering gifts to mothers recovering from drug addiction

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Tyler Smyth (left), Samaritan Daytop Village President and CEO Mitchell Netburn, Lynne Corry, Council Member-Elect Shaun Abreu, Young Mothers Program Director Carrie Booker-Searcy.
Photo courtesy of Giving Friends

A drug treatment savior has delivered holiday gifts to those in recovery for nearly two and a half decades in Manhattan Valley.

Lynne Corry arrived at Samaritan Daytop Village in 1997 with her newborn son and monkey on her back in the form of drug addiction. Located on 119 West 106th Street, the Young Mothers Program is a residential substance abuse treatment initiative that permits mothers with infant children to reside in an environment that allows them to hone their parenting skills while also working to beat their addiction demons.

It was here, while suffering from both homelessness and a drug crisis, Bronx native Corry put her fellow residents of the program before herself and began collecting gifts for them. What started 24 years ago mere weeks after she initially arrived evolved into an annual giveaway and the foundation of her very own nonprofit “Giving Friends.”

Now she runs the year-round program with her husband Joe and her son 25-year-old Tyler Smyth, collecting and hand delivering gifts and essentials to families in need of assistance.

“I am living proof that there is life after treatment,” said Corry. “This program saved my life, and I want everyone who is currently battling drug addiction to know that there is hope. If I could heal and become sober, everybody can.”

Dec. 22 marked almost 25 years since Corry first began her festive enterprise and the anniversary was marked with a special celebration. While preparing to hand out toys and essentials, Corry was joined by her family and Samaritan Daytop Village President and CEO Mitchell Netburn, Program Director Carrie Booker-Searcy, and Council Member-Elect Shaun Abreu, who represents the district in the Upper West Side to help distribute the festive joy like she had done so many years prior.

Giving Friends, which was established in 2020, collects donations through toy and clothing drives thanks to grassroots fundraising. According to Giving Friends, the nonprofit has distributed over 1,200 coats and 4,000 toys to various programs aiding young mothers and families.

“I don’t give because I have. I give because I know what it’s like to have nothing,” said Lynne.

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