Weinzer was only 5 when she got her first look at the realities of homelessness.
Her father took her downtown to visit children living in the shelters
and helped Abby pass out toys and books. The images in winter of children
shivering in threadbare clothing and hugging themselves to stay warm were
burned in her memory. Now a teenager, Abby has truly made a difference
for the homeless children in her city. Winter nights can be cruel for
the homeless. But through a plan she put into action at age 13, Abby has
given hundreds of homeless children brand new sleeping bags and stuffed
animals to snuggle up to on cold nights. Her project is called Operation
Sleep Sac, and she has been recognized by community and national leaders
for her successes.
But Abby Weinzer has her own struggles. She was born with a rare muscular
skeletal condition that causes chronic skeletal pain and hearing loss.
When she was born, the doctors told her mother that Abby would not live,
and they sent her home to die. But Abby and her family fought the disorder
and together they are winning. Today, simply walking causes her pain.
But Abby has turned her own struggles to victory as she reaches out to
serve others through Operation Sleep Sac.
In its first year, Operation Sleep Sac raised more than $10,000, and hoped
in its second to raise $50,000. Abby's program has now become an independent
charitable corporation and continues to grow. Aside from her plans to
see her program expand to a national level, Abby hopes to study medicine,
and then to help homeless people who need medical attention. Abby says
giving service raises her spirits and brings her closer to her Jewish
faith. "Whatever obstacles I had previously, or that I face in the
future, it's worth it to see that one little kid smiling," she says.