Multinational Santas |

Multinational Santas

Sarah Mausolf
Vail Correspondent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily

AVON, Colorado – When winter arrived this year, Danielle Abramowitz noticed some of her preschool students at Avon Elementary weren’t dressed for the weather.

“I noticed a few kids in my classroom coming to school without snow boots, gloves, hats and everything,” she said. “And we spend an hour outside every day. So they would have just a little sweater or even flip flops or sandals with socks.”

Abramowitz, a teaching assistant at the school, set out to change that. She posted a message on her Facebook page asking friends to donate used children’s clothing for the kids.

The Facebook post made its way to Florida bond trader Drew Mandala and his wife, Lisa, who immediately wanted to help.

“We have a 21⁄2-year-old little girl, so my heart truly goes out to those kids,” Lisa Mandala said. “I just wanted to help in the quickest way possible. I knew it was getting cold.”

Inspired to fix the situation, she bought coats, hats, gloves, boots and snowpants for the kids on Target’s website. It all arrived in red boxes at the Abramowitzes’ Vail home.

The clothes were a big hit with the parents at the school. Avon parents Maria and Leopoldo Olvera said they were happy when their 4-year-old daughter came home with her first set of winter clothes. Their daughter took to saying, “Now, I’m ready to go outside and play in the snow.”

Danielle Abramowitz’s passion for helping kids extends outside the classroom. She and her husband, fellow Avon Elementary teacher Matt Abramowitz, spent Christmas Day handing out gifts to street kids in a war-torn slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Drug dealers control the slum, so the couple had to drive through a gap in concrete barriers the drug dealers had set up to get in. Military tanks rumbled through the town, as well.

Luckily, Danielle Abramowitz had some connections in the area that helped things go more smoothly. Growing up in Brazil, giving presents to needy kids on Christmas was a family tradition. Some of her Brazilian family members spread the word about her charitable mission and made sure the drug dealers didn’t bother them.

When they started handing out toy trucks, dolls and soccer balls, the children rushed to get their gifts.

“They sat down and started opening everything up,” Matt Abramowitz said. “They were so excited. It was pretty cool.”

The Abramowitzes’ only regret was that they hadn’t brought even more toys.

“It wasn’t enough,” Danielle Abramowitz said. “When we were leaving, there were still kids coming and that was the sad part.”

Seeing how kids live in the slums helped to put things in perspective.

“We do have high-need kids and a poor community here but when you go over there and see the difference in poverty, it’s crazy,” Danielle said. “Fortunately our kids have food here, they have pretty much everything they need.”

For the Abramowitzes, giving back to kids seems to come naturally.

“I feel really lucky,” Danielle said. “I work a lot, have three jobs. I can do a lot. I don’t have kids right now, so [giving Christmas presents to kids is] my way to say thank you to the world.”

Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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