R&B singer Ne-Yo has rang in Christmas early this year with 500 children from Florida’s foster care system on Saturday.
Ne-Yo and his mother, who is his foundation’s president, recently went to six cities in six days and brought Christmas gifts to over 3,000 children in foster homes, group homes and Boys and Girls Clubs.
Bringing games, toys, clothing, and shoes to disadvantaged kids across the United States has been part of Ne-Yo’s annual "giving tour" for the past five years.
"I grew up pretty much like you all," Ne-Yo told the central Florida foster home teens, according to CNN. "We didn't have a lot of anything ... there was no silver spoon in my mouth."
Ne-Yo, born Shaffer Smith, is a father of two and said he sees his own children in the faces of the neglected teens.
"It's hard for me to fathom any parent that would abandon their kids for whatever reason," said Ne-Yo, CNN reports. "That doesn't compute with me."
The Kids House of Seminole (KHS) organized the holiday party. Each year, KHS cares for 2,300 victims of neglect or abuse between the ages of 3 and 18.
"These events help fill that void, that excitement of the holiday spirit that all kids should have," said John Cooper, assistant secretary of operations for the Florida Department of Children and Families, according to CNN.
Florida has the fourth-largest number of children being cared for by the state, following California, New York and Texas, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2010.
The teens gushed to the cable news network about the three-time Grammy award winner’s good deeds.
"We don't have Christmases like this all the time," said 15-year-old Destiny Molina.
"I appreciate that he took time out of his life and come and show respect to us, kindness -- let us know that we are still human, we are still people and we still need love,” said another teen.
Ne-Yo left the children with some words of wisdom, according to CNN.
"All you need for success is drive, passion and one person to give a damn -- to give you a shot," Ne-Yo said. "And you have a room full of people like that.”