Special for the AJT Online

With December approaching, Hanukkah is right around the corner. Parents everywhere will start buying gifts, preparing latkes, and serving up fresh and hot “Sufganiyot” of course! It’s a great time to celebrate, not only Hanukkah, but the whole season and holidays of other religions. I look forward to Winter Break and spending time with my Camp Blue Star friends in Florida during our annual reunion. But first will come Thanksgiving…and that is when the fun begins…Toys go on sale! Toys? Why should I think about toys?

Let me explain. Outside of school, one of my largest commitments is a community service organization called Creating Connected Communities. Our mission is to raise money so that we can hold festivals and parties for kids in Atlanta who are not fortunate enough to have Holiday and other celebrations of their own. Our biggest event of the year is called Amy’s Holiday Party, started by Amy Zeide in 1995. The party is alive and well today, as we host more than forty shelters and about 800 kids each December. Throughout the past couple of months, CCC has been preparing for Amy’s Holiday Party by holding fundraisers and phonathons, so that we can buy gifts for the children (lots of toys!) who will be attending the party this December. Raising money is tough! During the phonathon, I had to learn how to represent myself and CCC over the phone to attempt to raise as much money as I could.

Thankfully, our community is always very generous. It was unnerving at first, but luckily I got the hang of it! After Thanksgiving, we will be going to all types of stores to buy a variety of toys for boys and girls of different ages. This way, when a needy child or teen comes into the toy room during the party, they will surely see something they like. After all  the fundraising and toy buying, it finally becomes the day that we go set up the party, and open the doors to shelters all across Atlanta. I would have to say that Amy’s Holiday Party is what I look forward to most during the holiday season, because I know when I go into that party all of the hard work volunteering, raising money and giving my time and energy becomes not about me at all. It becomes about making someone else’s day the best day of their life. The party is all about giving back. I know how fortunate I am to have the family that I have, and it is the best feeling in the world to focus a whole day to giving all that back to kids not as fortunate. Creating Connected Communities has had a big influence on me, and I am so grateful it has given me these opportunities to make connections with kids I never would have met otherwise…plus, who doesn’t love a great party? If you or your teen would like to volunteer with me, or want more information on Amy’s Holiday Party, please go to www.cccprojects.org we would love to see you there!

Happy Holidays!

Ross Brill