A Jewish family from Connecticut gave 2,200 needy kids in New York City a Christmas miracle this year despite not celebrating the holiday because they remembered the Christians who risked their lives for Jews during the Holocaust.
According to the NY Post, Toys for Tots, a United States Marine Corps program, was "overwhelmed" by the demand of gifts they had to give this year because they didn't have enough gifts for those in need.
Gabriella Rizack, her father, Joshua, and brothers Reid and Emmet found out about the situation and within 24 hours the Jewish family came to the rescue by raising $17,000 that would help fund for the delivery of gifts to the children waiting — including kids in domestic violence shelters.
The 22-year-old daughter decided to volunteer after seeing an appeal for the toy charity online. Initially, her father resisted because they don't celebrate the Christian holiday and he didn't want to wear a St. Nick costume.
"What's a Jew doing putting on a Santa Claus suit?" Joshua asked his daughter.
She responded, "Think about all the Christians who died liberating the [concentration] camps and how we can set an example to people of all religions, dad."
Many Christians risked their lives during World World II to help Jewish people escape the Nazi Holocaust. MyJewishlearning.com credits Christian professionals (writers, artists, doctors) for saving their Jewish colleagues; as well as Christian employees and bosses who aided Jewish people they worked with.
Among those Christians who helped was popular activist Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch watchmaker who, along with her father and other family members, helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust by hiding them in her closet. She was imprisoned for her actions and her family died in prison.
With those memories in mind, the Jewish father, Joshua, penned a heartfelt fundraising appeal on Dec. 17 to 15 friends and associates. He emphasized that the efforts were universal.
"Never in my life did I think I'd be begging friends and neighbors to drop everything to help with a Christmas project. Nor did I ever expect to find myself dressed as Santa Claus or my kids as Mrs. Claus and two elves," he wrote.
"But God put us in this position for some reason, and we are grateful to Him for, yes, the opportunity to do something right and special this year. We now offer it to you, with our most heartfelt thanks and hopefulness. Gabriella says she just knows you're going to say, yes."
The family was "blown away" by the response they received. In just a day, they raised $17,000 — and money is still coming in.
The Post reported that Joshua, a financial consultant, thanked the New York Multifamily Group at Marcus Millichap and the Friezo Family Foundation for their large donations.
"This was the most moving, beautiful and heartwarming thing that has ever been written about what we do. I am literally bawling right now," Michael Sciaraffo, who founded the Secret Sandy Claus Project after Hurricane Sandy, said in a letter to Joshua.
Sciaraffo revealed that Toys for Tots has always backed his program, but this year they were only able to deliver 7,800 toys out of the 10,000. He was very grateful that the Rizack family stepped in.