Smiles, laughter, fun. All brought to you by Madhu Garg.

“Just seeing the kids being very happy, enjoying the food, going to the carnival, it's very fulfilling,” said Madhu Garg.

Madhu, founder of the New York City Children's Holiday Party, Inc. moved to New York from India almost 20 years ago and raised her own two children right here on Manhattan's Upper East Side. She says she's always been interested in volunteering but found her niche when she realized that not all kids have the same opportunities.

“It's hard to digest that there are some kids who don't get anything like that, not even a small part of it, and it didn't sit well with me so I just wanted to reach out to more than my children,” said Garg.

So 11 months ago she called the Department of Homeless Services looking for a way to help. After hearing there was no such thing as a holiday party for homeless children, Madhu decided it was her duty to give them one. She gathered 25 friends and got to work.

“It's been a tremendous effort reaching out to individual volunteers, her friends, coworkers, people in her community, the different businesses in terms of getting donations, getting the space, getting the word out and she even drew the logo,” said Antonio Rodriguez of the Department of Homeless Services.

“She's always done a lot of volunteer work. She’s always done a lot of benefit-type things. But this was a really huge project for her to spearhead herself and that speaks of her intelligence and what she's all about. She's very giving,” said volunteer Sandy Sabean.

It took months of phone calls, a major fundraiser, and 100 plus volunteers, but finally the day arrived, bringing with it more than 300 children from all over the city. They played games, shot hoops, danced the Electric Slide, and visited with Santa. The day was a success and Madhu is already getting ready to do it all over again next year.

“There are so many people here, working really hard and I think the kids are really having a good time and that's what it's all about,” said Madhu.

“It gives them a sense of community and reminds them that there are many people who care about them,” said Rodriguez.

And so for caring about our children, Madhu Garg and all the volunteers of the New York City Children's Holiday party are our New Yorkers of the Week.

ö Roger Clark

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