Sound Beach family turns tragedy into joy for families in need

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A Sound Beach family who suffered an unimaginable loss is working to bring joy to families in need this holiday season.

The seventh annual Respect Life Holiday Toy Drive kicked off into high gear. For Rich and Sam Specht, it's a labor of love inspired by the loss of their 22-month-old son, Reese.

"We lost him seven years ago, two days before Superstorm Sandy hit actually, to a drowning accident," says Rich Specht.

Sam Specht says the first year her son passed she still wanted to give gifts so giving to others is how she celebrates her son on his birthday, which was Dec. 19.

The toy drive has grown from four boxes the first year to more than 70 this year.

All donations will be given to the Family Services League in Mastic. Program director Donna Altonji says hundreds of children in need will benefit.

"Last year, it was over 1,600 children," says Altonji. "And each child gets two toys, a stocking stuffer, a game, a book and what's nice is the parents get to come in and choose their own gifts for their children."

This year's toy giveaway will mark what would have been Reese's ninth birthday.

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