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New York Daily News

The News Gets Through When 'Brown' Goes Yellow, We Deliver Cheer To Boy In S.I. Project


22 December 2004
Copyright © 2004 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved. 

LITTLE ADAM CORTEZ lives in the house where Santa's helpers dare not go.

UPS nearly ruined the 6-year-old boy's Christmas - refusing to deliver Adam's gifts to his Staten Island housing project.

"It's extremely rare, but there are some areas we do not deliver to due to safety reasons," a UPS spokeswoman said. "Our deliverers have complained of being threatened in the past."

But all was not lost for Adam - the Daily News made sure that the Christmas spirit was alive and well in the West Brighton Plaza housing project, where he lives.

The first-grader at Public School 18 had written to jolly St. Nick through the U.S. Postal Service's Operation Santa Claus project, designed to bring a Merry Christmas to New York's neediest children.

"I know that every year you have many gifts to give out, but I hope that my name this year will appear on your list," he wrote.

Santa passed on the letter to upper East Sider Stan Cohen.

"We wanted the kid to have a great Christmas, so my wife and I packaged up some gifts for him and sent it by UPS," he said. "A few days later I tracked it on the Internet and found out UPS wouldn't deliver to his address. It was too dangerous, they said.

"It's ridiculous. Kids like Adam are exactly the kind of kids who should be getting packages, and he's being punished by UPS because of where he lives."

West Brighton Plaza, on Henderson Ave., is known as a trouble spot.

On its doorstep is a makeshift memorial to Terrance Duncan, a 16- year-old knifed to death nearby earlier this year. A cop was shot there in 1998.

Yet police figures show a 20% reduction in crime in the past year.

"It's not that dangerous a place, not in the daytime," said Adam's cousin Luis Moreno, 36, who was looking after him last night while his mother, Anna Bonilla, 42, was working for the Parks Department.

Adam's father moved to Puerto Rico after the couple split up two years ago.

"They get by, but Anna struggles," Moreno said. "There's not a lot of spare money around and I know Adam wouldn't have got much this Christmas. He's a good kid, though. He doesn't complain."

When packages get sent via UPS to the West Brighton Plaza houses, the delivery service sends a postcard via the Postal Service - advising that the parcels can be picked up two blocks away, on Broadway.

As of yesterday, Adam had not even gotten the letter - and without it, he cannot pick up Cohen's gifts.

"It's a shame that a little boy can't get his package delivered to him, but safety for our workers and customers is paramount," the UPS spokeswoman said.

Yesterday, the 6-year-old was full of seasonal joy as he ripped open gifts delivered by The News, including a Batman outfit, a Spider-Man action figure and his favorite - a walkie-talkie set.

"Wow," he said, his eyes wide. "This is great!"

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