The Italian Cultural Center of St. John’s University joined
forces with the Italian Foundation of the Casa Belvedere and the
Garibaldi-Meucci Museum on December 9 to present “Solidarietà,” a
Relief Benefit to assist victims of Hurricane Sandy on Staten
More than 300 people came to the University’s Staten Island campus
for the event, which combined two holiday traditions—St. John’s
annual Holiday Concert and the exhibition of The Neapolitan
Solidarity Crèche, “Il Presepio Della Solidarietà.” Special guests
included Minister Natalia Quintavalle, Italy’s Consul General to
New York City, and Commissioner Salvatore Cassano of the New York
City Fire Department.
“We knew that all of us, as part of the Staten Island campus
community, had to bring attention to this disaster and raise funds
for the relief efforts,” said Joseph Sciame ’71Ed, Vice-President
for Community Relations at St. John’s and a Co-Chair of the
Garibaldi-Meucci Museum Board of Directors.
“We’re all very concerned,” he added, “because of the stories we
continue to hear of our own students who have been affected by
Hurricane Sandy, and the many local schools in the area who had
young people with no home to live in and are now living with other
The event began with the opening of the magnificent, 18th -century
Solidarity Crèche. Entitled “Il Presepio Della Solidarietà,”
the handcrafted, Neapolitan-style Nativity scene is 16-feet wide,
7-feet tall and consists of 120 pieces. It was a gift of friendship
and solidarity from the Naples, Italy, Chamber of Commerce to New
York City’s Fire Department, honoring victims of 9-11 and the
brave First Responders.
"What really tugs at your heart are the figures of the three
Kings,” commented Gina Biancardi, founder and President of Casa
Belvedere. “Instead of bringing gifts of gold, incense and myrrh,
they present Baby Jesus with three New York City firefighters’
helmets, which prominently display the numbers 9, 11 and 01. It's
really very symbolic and a sight to see.”
Following the unveiling was the cabaret-style Christmas Concert and
reception. The music featured selections from Tchaikovsky’s “The
Nutcracker,” performed by the Richmond County Orchestra, Maestro
Alan Aurelia conducting, and the New American Youth Ballet. The
next performance was by “Two Tenors & A Lady,” featuring VETRO
tenors Christopher Macchio and Elio Scaccio, with soprano Marissa
Famiglietti. They performed Christmas selections in English and
The Relief Benefit raised more than $10,000 for the Stephen Siller
Foundation’s Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts. “It’s nice to have
people care,” said Commissioner Cassano. “When people don’t forget,
it makes you pay that forward when you can to other people”
The crèche will be on display in Flynn Hall at the Staten
Island campus through January 6. The public is invited to view it
at the following days and times:
- December 17–30, 2012:
Monday–Friday, 11 a.m.–8 p.m.
Saturday–Sunday, 12 p.m.–4 p.m.
- January 2–6, 2013:
Wednesday–Friday, 11 a.m.–8 p.m.
- Saturday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m., January 5, 2013
- Sunday, 5 p.m.–8 p.m., January 6, 2013
The University is closed on December 24, 25, 31 and January 1.
For more information, contact the Office of Community Relations:
(718) 990-1941; firstname.lastname@example.org.