Great Neck sisters embody holiday spirit, donate to NYC homeless

Rebecca and Danielle Apflebaum's charity Givers of the World donates baskets of necessity items to homeless people in New York City. (Photo courtesy of Regine Basha)

Rebecca and Danielle Apflebaum’s trips from Great Neck to New York City to hand out necessity baskets to the homeless population has transformed from a small act of kindness to a worldwide initiative.

The charitable idea stemmed from Rebecca’s birthday wish when she turned 11 this past September.  Rather than asking for gifts, she wanted to spend a day off from school to travel into the city and spread kindness to those in need of it.

“It’s so incredible to see such kindness and selflessness from your children,” said their mother Regine Basha. “It makes me feel amazing, and certainly feels like I did something right as their mother, which is all you can truly ask for as a parent.”

Rebecca, along with her 12-year-old sister Danielle and their mother, put together a dozen baskets to distribute along the streets of New York City.  

Each basket is filled with items that are generally viewed as necessity items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, wet wipes, socks, deodorant, a water bottle, and a snack.

The three took a 30-minute ride into Penn Station and were immediately overwhelmed by the amount of graciousness they encountered once they began to handout their baskets to people on the street.

“Everyone we went up to was really sweet and so polite,” Rebecca said. “We’d hand them a basket and they’d hesitate and assume they should only take one thing out of it. When we told them they could take the whole thing, they couldn’t believe it!” 

The first trip proved to be so rewarding, that Danielle decided to turn this one act of generosity into a regularly-scheduled charity. 

She set up a non-profit, and their charity, “Givers of the World” was born. Through their website,, others can participate in either donating items for a basket or to join the sisters on their distribution run on Sundays.

Danielle said that the charity has not only opened the door to gain a wider perspective with those less fortunate but also provides her with an opportunity to share an experience with her family members.

“Since we’re so close in age, we always shared everything,” she said. “But I think the one thing we share the most and which actually brings us even closer together is the happiness we get from helping others.” 

For the past three months, their charity has been gaining more individual donations ranging from $20-$2,000.  The sisters then came up with another idea that incentivizes those who donate by creating and sending out colorful bracelets that read “GIVER” with a red heart next to it.

The bracelets received such a positive reaction from the public, that the girls then formed an Instagram page where donors are tagged in pictures of their donated baskets being given out to a person in need.  Basha said her daughters operate on core beliefs and wish to spread a message of kindness rather than their own specific charity.

“The girls believe that love is the only thing that heals. If each person commits to acts of kindness, no matter how small, we can truly heal the planet,” Basha said. “They even have plans to spawn a movement called “Sundays are for Givers,” where families can get together to do something to benefit those in need.

Basha said her girls, like many Great Neck residents, come from a fortunate background of having opportunities in financial, educational, and loving aspects in their lives. By gathering their friends to join in distributing goods, the girls have exemplified the giving spirit of the holiday season in a remarkable way.

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Robert Pelaez

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