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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 3, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 36
Eduardo Khawam's toy story
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Eduardo Khawam's toy story

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Eduardo Khawam has pledged to collect 1,000 recycled toys and would like to invite you to take part by asking your friends, family, and neighbors to look under the bed, in the closet, attic, or basement for forgotten toys. Their destination? Local charities.

Eduardo told SGN he came up with the idea when watching Toy Story 3. He said the movie brought back memories from an experience he had as a 20-year-old man in Venezuela.

'On Christmas Eve, my friend and I decided to bring some cookies to an orphanage in a small Venezuelan town at the top of the Andes Mountains,' Eduardo recalled. 'We arrived at the orphanage door with our cookies to a sea of loving faces. These tiny tots, who had nothing, were so joyful to receive the cookies we brought. It was a very emotional experience, one that will stay with me for the rest of my life. A few months ago, I was watching Toy Story 3 and it brought back the memory of those toyless kids in the orphanage and the joy on their faces at receiving a gift. I decided to collect 1,000 toys that were once loved to be shared again by another child.'

The toys that Eduardo collects will go to O'Christmas Trees, SeaMar Clinic, Odessa Brown Children's Clinic, and Treehouse For Kids.

"I chose O'Christmas Trees because they are one of my favorite creative and inspirational charities," Eduardo said. "Every year we decorate a tree to be auctioned off to benefit Providence Mt. St. Vincent. The first year, I was inspired to create a tree of handmade toys beautifully crafted by homeless men and women. Treehouse For Kids is a foster home. It reminded me of the orphanage in Venezuela."

"Every kid deserves a chance to be happy," he said. "Every child deserves a chance to be joyful, one toy at a time. Kids are our future, and as a community, it is our duty to help them grow."

Over the last 15 years, Eduardo has helped to raise over 15 million dollars for charities that have inspired him. One such example of his dedication to philanthropy could be traced to 1999, when Eduardo rode a bicycle 2,500 miles across the U.S. to raise money for AIDS. "I had only trained on a bike for six months. Most people told me I was crazy. I still remember my first 500 miles - I was ready to give up," he said. "I was thinking, 'Why am I doing this?' I was in such physical pain."

Suddenly, he said, a rider from behind called out to him, saying, "You can do it! You are our hero!"

"I turned back to see who was calling me a hero and to my surprise it was a man who had lost both legs, pedaling with his hands," said Eduardo. "At that moment, all my negative thoughts disappeared, and it motivated me to keep going and finish my goal. He never knew that he was my hero and inspiration to finish what I thought was not possible."

"I continue to do events that give me inspiration, professionally and personally, and have an element of giving back," he said.

One such event, Wine Tasting & Art for 1,000 Toys, is in line with Eduardo's personal belief of giving back to the community or those in need. The event, which takes place at Gallerias Gourmet restaurant (611 Broadway East) on September 9 from 6-9:30 p.m., will feature the best in Argentinean, Chilean, Mexican, and Spanish wines; live models recreating Frida's and Diego Rivera's work of art; delicious food from Chef Vicente Jimenez; and if you bring a recycled/used toy, you will get a chance to win a $500 shopping and dining spree. Eduardo asks that you dress to impress. Wine Tasting & Art for 1,000 Toys costs $20 to attend.

If you cannot make the September 9 event but would like to help Eduardo collect toys or make a donation, e-mail him at obraube17@yahoo.com.

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