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Landies Candies Brings Joy To Homeless Shelter – Frowns Turned Upside Down

This year in America, more than 2.5 million people will experience homelessness. Last year in Erie County 6000 people were homelessness, and 1500 of those without homes were young children. Landies Candies, an award-winning small business in Buffalo, takes civic responsibility seriously and strives to find the silver lining in every dark cloud.

Most recently, the company brought that silver lining to the dark cloud hanging over the family of 9-year old Amar, who is living in the Family Promises emergency homeless shelter with his mother and sisters where he was destined to spend his 9th birthday. While Family Promise is a nonprofit that responds to the urgent need of families experiencing homelessness in our community, it is hardly a place of happiness and celebration; all too often birthdays in shelters are only painful memories. But for Amar, Family Promise and Landies Candies (through Landies “Birthday Bucket Program”) were able to give him a day to remember with joy, by throwing him a birthday party!

Amar’s sister taking full advantage of her brother’s birthday

The Birthday Bucket included a birthday cake, new clothes, toys, games, and even a computer tablet. Amar’s mother was ecstatic and remarked that Amar had enough school clothes for a year. “I am very, very thankful to Landies Candies for giving my son a birthday party. It filled my heart with joy to see how happy Amar was. Words really can’t explain how much this meant to him and to me – for Landies Candies to give so many gifts that I wasn’t able to give. In the situation we are in, we are so grateful for everyone’s kindness,” said Christina, Amar’s mother.

Amar’s sister hams it up on her big brother’s big day

“We are so grateful to Larry Szrama (President of Landies Candies) and his team at Landies Candies for all their hard work to help to make a child’s birthday in our shelter his best birthday ever!” said Luanne Firestone, Executive Director, Family Promise of WNY. “Families experiencing homelessness are often overwhelmed and have a hard time keeping their spirits up. When an organization like Landies Candies can take an otherwise stressful time in a family’s life and create such a positive moment, it can be the momentum a family needs to recover hope and possibility for a brighter future and restore their faith in the goodness of our community.”

“Landies Candies is committed to serving the community – my parents served this community their entire lives,” said Szrama, who prides himself with knowing that his candy company could make such an impact on one family in need in WNY. “Nothing makes me more proud – to help a homeless child celebrate a birthday. A potentially sad day turns into a day of joy and fun for the entire homeless family.  I am pleased our Birthday Bucket Program helped Amar have a wonderful day.”

Landies Candies puts a portion of their proceeds from sales of their chocolate cake toppers towards helping children in Buffalo with greatest needs.

Written by Mark Lazzara

Mark Lazzara

I have a passion for helping my fellow Western New Yorkers and advance the great things that are going on in this region. Buffalo Rising is a great booster and it’s a blast writing and contributing to BR about positive happenings in our neck of the woods. I appreciate the help I’ve received over the years from organizations and people who share my passion and supported me in efforts that put thousands of people to work and resulted in a community give back of more than $115M to Buffalo’s neediest during my days at the helm of AmeriCorps.

I’m especially grateful for the opportunities that enabled me to help cities devastated by Hurricane Katrina and rebuild more than 700 family homes that were destroyed. Back at home, I was able to enjoy a once in a lifetime experience as a coordinator for ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition where we were able to repair, beautify and upgrade homes for an entire neighborhood on Buffalo’s Westside. Other projects close to my heart include a collaboration with Sail Buffalo to build the Cazenovia Boating Center at Buffalo’s Outer Harbor, and my annual Christmas season time is spent at Buffalo’s treasure, the Broadway Market, playing Santa Clause.

In my other life, I am a workforce development, business, marketing, public relations and fundraising professional. Earned a M.S. Human Service Management from Buffalo State, and enjoy my family life that includes four amazing grandchildren!

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