Season of Giving in Forest Hills
by Michael Perlman
Dec 31, 2019 | 2656 views | 0 0 comments | 117 117 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The spirit of the holiday season was on full display in Forest Hills thanks to Women Helping Women (WHW), Aigner Chocolates, and Forestdale.

Members of WHW gathered at the chocolate shop on Metropolitan Avenue on December 23 for some holiday caroling.

“Smiles appeared on patrons’ faces and the owners when we sang special lyrics honoring Aigner Chocolates,” said member and Forest Hills resident Gloria Imperante. “We borrowed the melody of ‘We love you, Conrad’ from the 1963 production ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ and renamed it ‘We Love You, Aigner.’”

WHW is a local women’s networking group that raises funds for charities related to research into diseases like Alzheimer’s and pediatric cancer.

“We were so happy that the owners were surprised and excited by our caroling,” said WHW member Denise De Maria.

“The owners mentioned that out of all the gifts they received this season, the best was the caroling,” added WHW chair Rubi Gaddi Macaulay.

As a Thanksgiving treat, Aigner Chocolates gifted a $1,000 chocolate cornucopia to WHW. It was filled with an assortment of handmade caramels, truffles, chocolate-covered Twinkies, and turkey and cat tongues.

“It became an annual tradition for Mark to help judge WHW’s annual Cookie Exchange, but due to the busy holiday season we were unable to attend, so we wanted to do something special for them,” said co-owner Rachel Kellner. “The community welcomed us with open arms when we took over Aigner Chocolates, and we are always trying to find new ways to give back.”

The chocolate was in turn donated to Forestdale, a local nonprofit that provides services for children and families in the foster care system. It served as the centerpiece at Forestdale’s Strong Mothers party. Strong Mothers is a program that offers support to pregnant and parenting young mothers.

“We knew we wanted to share it with someone who would appreciate it, and we were elated when WHW suggested Forestdale,” said co-owner Mark Libertini. “We have collaborated with Forestdale in the past, and we love their vision and mission.”

For Forestdale, the holiday season is a chance to provide a positive experience that all children and families deserve.

“Many people that Forestdale serves throughout Queens are not guaranteed a fun and festive holiday season,” said senior community engagement officer Danielia Donohue Reidy. “They are coping with trauma, instability, and the long-term effects of poverty. We rely on good neighbors like Aigner Chocolates and WHW to work with us as we provide experiences for children and families that truly need it in order to heal.”

Established in 1930, Aigner Chocolates is one of the oldest chocolate and confectionery shops in the city. It was owned by the Aigner family for three generations. The store, recipes and traditions were acquired by Libertini and Kellner in 2015.

“Our vision is to share our passion for the art of chocolate to make the world a better place,” said Libertini. “We enjoy making people happy with our chocolate, as well as spending time with family and being a part of helping to continue traditions and starting new ones.”
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