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Three Wise Men Hand Out 700 Toys at El Centro Hispano

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Three kings draped in bright silks and turbans stood in front of five tables overflowing with toys and one by one handed out more than 700 presents to children at El Centro Hispano's annual Three Wise Men celebration Sunday.

Dolores Tito of White Plains said seeing the three kings and jumping to catch toys and treats thrown by the three wise men at the concluding "piñata" throw has become one of her daughter’s favorite traditions.

Lauren Tito, 7, was particularly excited about the Barbie book she got from a wise man.

The Perez family of Port Chester traveled to the 38th annual White Plains celebration, which attracted many families from across Westchester.  Brian Perez, 14, said he heard about El Centro Hispano's event at an after-school program and was pleased with the Hot Wheels set, stuffed dinosaur and other toys he and his siblings received.

Isabel Villar, the executive director of El Centro Hispano, said the celebration has grown tremendously from the first year she organized a toy drive for about 70 or 80 kids.

"We have more than 700 toys donated by many people and organizations. We've been busy with this since October," Villar said. "We're very happy and very thankful we were able to do this."

Each year the three wise men are selected out of ardent El Centro Hispano supporters, according to Villar. Anthony Lanza and Louis Lanza of the Lanza Family Foundation and Scarsdale businessman Peter Telesco were selected to dress up as the kings this year.

Several high schoolers, including Anthony Ortega, 16, who enjoyed getting presents from the three wise men as kids, have returned as volunteers.

"It was always a tradition and we used to love it," the White Plains High School junior said of seeing the kings as a child.

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