Dec 20, 2011 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
Selma Adydan gives back because she knows what it’s like to be in need.
Adydan, who owns Behind the Iron Gates Antiques & Collectibles on Tipperary Hill, grew up in Syracuse with seven siblings. Her parents struggled to make ends meet.
“You were lucky if you got a boy or a girl gift,” said Adydan of a typical Christmas growing up. “You didn’t know what you were gonna get for Christmas.”
As the owner of a successful antique shop, which last year saw a spike in customers bringing in gold for cash, Adydan is in a position to make Christmas bright for kids in need.
Last year, Adydan made the Christmas wishes of 460 kids come true through “Whoville Christmas,” a program she hosted with help from family, friends, employees and Grazi Zazzara, owner of Paradise Market on Erie Boulevard.
“I like to see the kids at Christmas opening up their toys and the excitement that they have,” Adydan said.
For the program, Adydan had a gingerbread house built inside Paradise Market and took on the role of Mrs. Claus. Going through churches, food pantries, schools and businesses, she sent wish lists addressed from her (Mrs. Claus) and Santa to kids, asking them to describe themselves, say what they wanted for Christmas and include their mailing address and phone number.
Adydan at first planned to respond to around 100 wishes. She received 460 letters back, and responded to every one of them.
“We couldn’t turn anybody away,” she said.
Adydan contacted the families of all 460 kids and invited them to attend the Whoville Christmas program. As Mrs. Claus, Adydan began sending replies to children that November, letting them know the North Pole had received their Christmas list.
With help from individual donors as well as businesses, Adydan provided each child with candy, a bag of gifts and a big stocking filled with Christmas goodies. All 460 kids and their families were treated to a dinner courtesy of Delmonico’s Steak House, Benevento’s Restaurant and Cathy’s Catering.
And when Adydan learned that a group of 50 kids had missed the event because they thought it was the next day, she was more than accommodating, hosting a second day of “Whoville.”
“We collected their letters, ran across the street to Ollie’s [Bargain Outlet], did a bunch of shopping, and I was ready for them the next day,” she said.
Adydan wishes she could host the event again this year, but is without a location since the closing of Paradise Market. The gingerbread house still stands inside Paradise Market, and Adydan would like to turn it into a Santa’s Workshop for next year and years to come. Anyone willing to donate space for the gingerbread house for Christmas 2012 is asked to call Adydan at Behind the Iron Gates, 484-3364, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In lieu of Whoville
This year, Adydan is collecting gifts for local efforts such as Toys for Tots.
“Instead of me doing the personal handout, I’m giving [toys] to people so that they can make Christmases, because I just don’t have a location,” she said.
Adydan is still taking donations of unwrapped toys for kids ages 10 and older, along with clothing items like pajamas, sweaters, socks and coats.
Those interested in donating can call Behind the Iron Gates or bring items to the antique shop at 1818 West Genesee St., Syracuse.
A wealth of resources
In addition to hosting “Whoville Christmas” last year, Adydan has collected coats for children at Seymour School, organized many food drives, and personally organized two major fundraisers for local families in crisis.
When it comes to collecting and fundraising, Adydan says she often turns to the companies she advertises with, and they respond generously. They might even put her charitable event on a billboard.
“I hit ‘em all up. Know one’s untouched,” she said. “I say, ‘Listen. I’m having a fundraiser and this is what I need you to do.’ And they always come through for me.”
Her efforts around the holidays have not gone unnoticed by her customers, either.
“I can’t tell you how many times during the year that I’ve bought gold from somebody and they said, ‘Are you still doing Christmas, Selma?’” she said. “And they throw me an extra five or 10 bucks and say, ‘Here, put this towards Christmas.’”
Ned Campbell is editor of The Eagle. Reach him at email@example.com.