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Abby 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.


Read this article about Abby Weinzer

 
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