Clubbers Trade Toys For Martinis At Make A Difference NYC Event

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

New York clubbers showed their generous side at Make a Difference NYC's yearly gift-giving holiday party on Sunday, CNN reports.

Make a Difference Founder and former nightclub promoter Michael Gallegos began throwing the party 10 years ago, which requires guests to bring a wrapped toy or donate $20 for entry to the event.

Gallegos had a very personal reason for starting the toy drive: He grew up homeless. When he was 8 years old, his mother left his abusive father and the family lived in and out of shelters on the south side of Brooklyn.

"I had toys until I was 8 years old," Gallegos said. "And then we didn't get toys anymore for the holidays. My cousin told me we could steal toys. Instead we stole hats and mittens from a store. I sold them on the street for $3 and I bought myself a GI Joe."

Gallegos said that stealing was only the start of teenage years filled with bad behavior that included dropping out of school and dealing drugs. He shaped up in his 20s and decided he wanted to try to save kids like himself from themselves, which is why he believes the holiday toy drive isn't just about giving one toy to a kid.

Partygoers took great pleasure from toting in giant stuffed animals and other goodies and the premise was a great platform for pickups, they told CNN. But due to the lagging economy, this year's event raised only $8,000, a third of what last year's brought in, which has Make a Difference scrambling to raise extra funds to fulfill their holiday promises.

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