Behind the Iron Gates owner Selma Adydan, right, with Fallon Rogers, 19, an employee at the store. Rogers helped out as a Christmas elf at last year’s “Whoville Christmas” event at Paradise Market.
Photo by Ned Campbell.
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.