Queens Person of the Week Honors Nephew's Memory by Giving Back

Twelve years ago the unthinkable happened to our Queens Person of the Week.  But she turned that tragedy into a way to help others. NY1's Leisha Majtan filed this report.

Right before the holidays, in 2004, Elizabeth Crew-Lee's 16-year-old nephew Brian took his own life.

"It was in November and when I came back to school, I was not in the holiday spirit at all," said Elizabeth Crew-Lee, NY1's Queens Person of the Week.

His death hit her hard.

But Crew-Lee says she made it her mission to do something positive in his memory. 

Crew-Lee is a teacher at P.S. 229 in Woodside.

And every year since her nephew's death, she hosts a holiday party for students living in homeless shelters and those with special needs. 

"For me, this fills that emptiness of the holidays. Although I have family that I adore and we have a great time, there is always that one piece of the puzzle missing," said Crew-Lee.

This year, she teamed up with Thomas Edison High School to make the party extra special.

The high schoolers "adopted" 90 students from her school and got them gifts from their wish lists, all to make sure they have the Christmas of their dreams.

"Seeing the smiles on their faces is one of the most rewarding feelings I could have ever gotten," said Thomis Edison High School senior Tiffany Sukhmandan.

"Just seeing the unbreakable joy that the kids have when they get the gift they wanted... it's just so fulfilling. I will honestly carry this for the rest of my life," added Joaly Burgos, another senior donating her time from Thomas Edison High School.

And for the rest of her life, Crew-Lee says she hopes she makes her nephew proud. 

"He would have been so pleased to know that children are being made happy in his memory," said Crew-Lee.

And so for keeping her nephew's spirit alive by giving children in need the Christmas she would've given him, Elizabeth Crew-Lee is our Queens Person of the Week.

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