Metro Atlanta woman helps homeless children celebrate holidays - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Metro Atlanta woman helps homeless children celebrate holidays

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ATLANTA -

For a lot of children living in homeless shelters, the holidays aren't always a reason for celebration. Amy Zeide started a mission when she was a preteen to make sure every child has a chance to celebrate!

The thousands of brand new toys are bound for one of the biggest holiday parties of the year. It's called Amy's Holiday Party. Zeide says the idea came when she was just 12 years old.

"I was watching a news broadcast on a local station, and saw that a shelter that was providing a holiday party for its clients had all of their gifts stolen the day before their party," said Zeide.

She was so upset she took her babysitting money, her Bat Mitzvah money, and bought all new toys for the shelter and delivered them.

"I was 13. I had $400, one shelter, 25 kids," said Zeide.

That was 18 years ago. Every year for nearly two decades, Zeide has thrown a holiday party for kids living in shelters. It's now grown to more than 700 kids living in 30 shelters around the metro area and 300 teen volunteers.

"We have pictures with Santa, a carnival, arts and crafts, we have Mellow Mushroom lunch, entertainment. The party is massive," said Zeide.

At the end of the party, they get to go to what's called the toy store.

"They go in and they are just, their eyes wide open and mouth drop open and they look and see the 4,000 gifts they have in front of them to choose from," said volunteer Ashley Katzenstein. "We really see that these kids are just very happy of the celebrations we'd take for granted. It's something we've really brought to the community and really makes their holiday season."

"Honestly, I never imagined that it would become what it is. I'm so grateful I've been able to do it, and provide this opportunity, both for the community and for the hundreds of teens who are looking for outreach opportunities, where they can directly engage in their community," Zeide said.

Amy's Holiday Party is now a year round effort that takes hundreds of sponsors, volunteers and man hours. Zeide says the lesson and mission have not changed.

Amy's Holiday Party and its partnering leadership training program has had three teens go onto their college campuses and replicate Amy's Holiday Party. The party is not open to the general public, but there are opportunities for you to volunteer or donate. For more information, click here!

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