Scottsdale Denny's uses tips, donations for special Christmas party for 19 kids

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Kids from seven families had a Christmas to remember thanks to staff at a Denny's and the community. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Kids from seven families had a Christmas to remember thanks to staff at a Denny's and the community. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
This year, staff decided to ask customers for donations or tips to go to the special event. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) This year, staff decided to ask customers for donations or tips to go to the special event. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
All the 19 kids were ecstatic when they saw the presents which ranged from bicycles to clothes to toys. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) All the 19 kids were ecstatic when they saw the presents which ranged from bicycles to clothes to toys. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Families were allowed to take home Christmas trees and decorations if they needed them. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Families were allowed to take home Christmas trees and decorations if they needed them. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Santa was there, too. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Santa was there, too. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Thanks to the generosity of strangers and donations from businesses, more than a dozen Valley children will have a Christmas they won't soon forget.

Denny's staff hosted a special Christmas dinner for seven families on Wednesday evening. Santa was there too.

The event started last year where instead of doing a white elephant gift exchange, employees threw a party for four families.

This year, staff decided to ask customers for donations or tips to go to the special event.

"We had a home builder from Castle Rock Homes donated 16 tablets to these children," said Elizabeth Cervantes, the event organizer and Denny's employee. "We had another guest, her name is Martha, she donated all kinds of clothes."

Another woman spent two days wrapping the presents.

"If everybody puts up a small part, it makes a big difference," Cervantes said.

All the 19 kids were ecstatic when they saw the presents which ranged from bicycles to clothes to Tickle-Me-Elmos, Hot Wheels and other toys.

"It feels really special to me. It felt like we really spent time with our family," said Ivan Guerrero, who's 11 years old. "We didn't know what we were going to get but we were happy with what we got."

Each family had endured hardship during the year. One family lost everything in a fire last month and another lost their father in September.

For mother Erica King, she has three kids and was originally looking for furniture when a friend recommended her for the Christmas party.

"It's amazing. I never thought that this would happen to me," King said.

She was fortunate for the great evening of gift giving. 

"It was awesome to see them get gifts and they were happy and they're going to be happy for the rest of the year," said King. "They got more than I can give them."

Families were allowed to take home Christmas trees and decorations if they needed them. They also received food boxes.

Cervantes said making this event more personable means a lot.

"It's nice when you go to a foundation and say here's this, here's some toys, here's some gifts but when you're able to see where it goes to and see their faces, the tears in the parents' eyes it's just so heartwarming and humbling to know, you got to make that difference," she said. "And for me, that's what I love is just to be able to see that that difference that we made even if it was just one night."

All the donations and gifts cost more than $3,000.

"It came from a lot of caring people who made a difference and I just want to thank them," Cervantes said.

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