By Jessica Easthope
The gate at P.C.’s is down — the Bay Ridge bar and grill that has been a staple for 25 years is closed. Right now it can’t be the place where people get together and have fun, and that’s the hardest part for owner Pam Pazarecki.
“We are closed, it breaks my heart,” she told Currents News. “We employ a lot of people and our customers, socialization is one of the main things we need. Especially this time of year when depression runs high, they close us down again.”
Pam’s not alone: hundreds of businesses across the country are closing for good every day. But at a time when stress is high and profits are low, Pam and 28 other Bay Ridge business owners are thinking about others.
“People are getting very down about our industry and what we are and what we stand for, and I said, ‘We’re good people, we work hard, we care for our community.’ So I said, ‘Let’s do a two-phase drive,” she explained.
This Christmas, Pam started Count on Us. She organized a group of her fellow business owners, and together they began to collect food and toys. The group collected more than 1,000 toys they’ll distribute to Toys for Tots, Catholic Charities, domestic violence shelters and military families.
Count on Us brought out the best in the community. When St. Ephrem’s students Victoria DiSpirito and Sofia Cascio saw one of their favorite restaurants giving back, they decided to make a video asking for toy donations. Their inspiration? Jesus and the true meaning of Christmas.
“He is the best person and He would do a lot of this stuff too,” Victoria said.
The struggle to make Christmas special this year doesn’t extend far beyond P.C.’s. Judette Kraics can usually be found behind the bar, but she’s out of a job, so she’s been spending her days collecting toys.
“It’s heartwarming to see people give even though they don’t have, and it’s a wonderful thing,” Judette said.
Pam doesn’t know when she’ll be open again, but she hasn’t lost hope or her desire to help those in need.
“We have made kids happy and we have made families happy, and that’s the most important thing is spreading it out,” she said.
This Christmas, her message to other families is, “You can count on us.”