June 19, 2008


Lawyer cited for exceptional community service work with children and homeless

ALBANY-The New York State Bar Association announced today that Charles C. Russo of Hauppauge (Russo, Karl, Widmaier & Cordano PLLC) is the recipient of the 2008 Root/Stimson Award, which honors a lawyer who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to community service. Russo will receive the award on June 21 at the House of Delegates meeting in Cooperstown .

Russo is being honored for his outstanding efforts as the founder of Christmas Magic, as well as his work as chairman of the Board at Hope House Ministries and several other charitable organizations. Russo received dozens of letters in support of his nomination.

"Charles Russo's extraordinary community service carries on the fine tradition set by Elihu Root and Henry L. Stimson. He has worked selflessly to improve and make a difference in the lives of children," said President Bernice K. Leber of New York(Arent Fox LLP). "He is an inspiring role model for the children he serves and the legal community."

"The outpouring of support Russo received is indicative of how many people he has touched over the years through his various service endeavors," said Paul Michael Hassett of Buffalo (Brown & Kelly LLP), chair of the Root/Stimson Award Subcommittee of the Committee on the Annual Award, which sponsored the competition. "We are thrilled to honor this man and his exceptional efforts."

Russo received his undergraduate degree from the University of Vermont and earned his law degree from Hofstra Law School. He has been in private practice since 1980.

For more than 20 years, Russo has been the chief fund raiser and "man in the red suit" for the Christmas Magic project, which he founded. The program enhances the holiday spirit for children and families in crisis. During the fall and early winter each year, Russo works tirelessly to raise the necessary funds to provide Christmas to thousands of underprivileged kids and their families living in various shelters and programs throughout Suffolk County. He is noted for touching the lives of thousands of children by providing them with a positive memory and loving picture of Christmas. It is estimated that each year Christmas Magic serves more than 5,000 families.

Russo's community service extends to Hope House Ministries, a large organization providing emergency housing, counseling, and other essential programs to homeless and at-risk Long Islanders, including individuals, families and youth. He is also chair of the Nassau-Suffolk Coalition for the Homeless, where he led the effort in collecting food items and clothing for homeless Long Islanders.

The Root/Stimson Award is named in honor of former Association Presidents Elihu Root and Henry L. Stimson, who selflessly gave much of their time and effort to community service activities. The award, created in 1974, is presented to a lawyer admitted to practice in New Yorkwho is actively involved in volunteer community service work.

The 74,000-member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New Yorkand the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Founded in 1876, NYSBA programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.