We asked how your family gives back, and here are your stories of amazing kids who make the Long Island community better every day.
For the NYMetroParents Caring Kids Awards, we invited you to submit stories and photos of families and kids who do volunteer work to help others. We hope you will be as inspired as we were by these stories of young Long Island residents committed to making the world a better place and helping those in need. These local kids are making a difference in the community every day, and we salute all of them!
Gabbie and Charlie, 13, Make Improvements to a Group Home
The twins’ idea was to create improvements in their Uncle Eric’s group home for the developmentally disabled that would last a lifetime, make a difference, and give them reasons to visit more often. Through this marvelous journey of almost one year, they became friends with staff and got to know more about how and where their Uncle Eric lives. They raised money for a beautiful fish tank and a mural of the Coney Island skyline hand-painted by an artist.
As Caring Kids Award Recipients, Gabbie and Charlie will receive a $500 gift card and certificates of recognition for their community service.
Justin, 11, Raises Money and Awareness for Pediatric Cancer
My son Justin is part of a voluntary 21st Century Learning Project in his school. The first part of the project for the school year was to pick a nonprofit organization and do something for the charity, such as spread awareness. He and his classmate picked the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Instead of just spreading awareness, Justin wanted to raise money for the organization. Justin enjoys cooking and baking, so he figured he could put his talent to good use and bake cupcakes and raise money for the organization. His first fundraiser was baking cupcakes for the teachers and staff at his school; he raised $120. He had a second fundraiser and held a bake sale at the local church and raised $220 that will also be donated to the Pediatric Cancer Foundation.
A Family That Fights Breast Cancer
Our family started a breast cancer foundation four years ago after my sister Katerina was diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 32. During her journey she and I met many women battling the disease without the support network that we were so blessed to have. We started the Kat’s Ribbon of Hope foundation with a small group of family and friends—all volunteers—and each year we host a golf outing and benefit dinner. We gather more than 400 family and friends from the surrounding suburbs and we raise awareness and funds. The funds are all donated to local hospitals for research in breast cancer and to women who are unable to fight the fight on their own. We help them by hiring a patient navigator (social worker) to help them navigate the process of obtaining treatment and beating the disease. We are proud to say that in just four short years we have raised more than $1,000,000. Our son James is the president of his student council at the Green Vale School, and for the past two years he has elected to donate all Wednesday morning bagel sales to Kat’s Ribbon of Hope. He and his classmates have raised more than $1,000, which directly went to subsidize wigs, food, and help to women in the surrounding local communities. They made a presentation in October during Breast Cancer Awareness month to the entire school about breast cancer and how we can all help women who are not able to help themselves.
Asmita, 12, Helps Kids with Cancer
My daughter Asmita gives back to her community in so many ways, as she has been involved with the Girl Scouts from a very young age. The Girl Scouts tradition encompasses the values of service and community. One cause that she immerses herself in and feels extremely compassionate about is childhood cancer. She is 12 years old, and when she sees kids the same age as her suffering with cancer, it just breaks her heart. It really touches home for her. When we are able, we participate by volunteering our time in walks or runs that benefit childhood cancer foundations. We volunteer by doing service such as handing out snacks, setting up, and supervising children at carnivals that raise funds for children with cancer. She has volunteered at Sunrise Walks and also St. Jude’s Walk/Run, to name a few organizations.
Dylan, 9, Helps Kids with Cancer with a Lemonade Stand
Since he was 5 years old, Dylan has been running his own lemonade stands and donating the proceeds to charities. For the past three years, that has been the Matthew Fetzer Foundation, which helps children with cancer and their families by providing a bit of relief and some happiness to children in hospitals in the New York metropolitan area. On his own, Dylan has raised hundreds of dollars for the charity, has been the youngest, smallest finisher in their annual 5K run, and has been instrumental in the implementation of a toy drive at his school.
Ruby, 10, Helps Animals
My daughter Ruby is constantly moving from one project to the next and loves to do things to help others. She decided to volunteer with her dad at the Long Beach animal shelter over the past year and realized how much she loves being with animals. We have a dog and she knows how it is to go out in the cold snow and ice to take him for a walk every day. She decided to create a website and make flyers to post around our town to volunteer to help elderly people walk their dogs this winter.
Siblings Raise Funds to Fight Cancer
After their mom had a yearlong battle with Stage III colorectal cancer, Lucas (age 10) and Skye (age 5) set up a lemonade stand to raise money for Memorial Sloan Kettering—the hospital that saved Mom’s life. They raised $150 in an afternoon.
A Family That Volunteers at Church
My family volunteers because we all understand the importance of giving back. My children understand their parents come from humble beginnings. Both my husband and I knew what it meant to not have, and so we give back anytime we can. Recently we had an opportunity to give back at our church. It had a Halloween fest and we each played a part. It is so amazing that I get to do this with my family. We look forward to our next event. We also volunteer at our church working with kids and other community outreaches, it is just amazing. I would not change this feeling for anything.
Mark, 13, Throws Birthday Parties for Homeless Children
For his bar mitzvah project, my son Mark chose to help a local organization that throws birthday parties for homeless children, called Birthday Wishes. He baked quiches, muffins, breads, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, and cakes to donate. He chose this organization because he feels that every child deserves to feel happy on their birthday.
Twins, 13, Spread Joy Through Music
For the past seven years, our 13-year-old boys have been playing their violin as a duet and as a solo for different populations: senior citizen centers, day care centers, a veterans’ hospital, local elementary and middle schools, and high schools. They’ve also played at governmental agencies, at a local powerful union event, at several community gala events, at an assisted living center, at an LGBT center, and also at MacArthur Airport (greeting passengers leaving or arriving to Ronkonkoma). The boys have been playing violin for others, free of charge, and as a community service, for the past seven years. The boys do this because they enjoy playing for others, for family members, for friends at the local nursing home, and other close friends.
Spencer, 4, Serves at a Food Pantry
Spencer spends some of his Saturday mornings at the food pantry in Oyster Bay doing God’s work by sharing food—but most of all, his smile—with those in need.
A School Provides Supplies for Children in Need Worldwide
Every November, the Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton School community collects clothing, toys, school supplies, candy, and more. We pack all of these items into shoeboxes to be sent to children in need across the globe. We recently packed 850 boxes for the organization Samaritan’s Purse.
Shai, 13, Brings Joy to Seniors
Shai is a regular visitor (two hours every three weeks) at a nearby assisted living center. It’s his favorite community service activity because he really becomes involved with the residents—from playing Name That Tune and singing Broadway songs to assisting with daily exercises or serving morning snack, Shai enjoys chatting with the seniors, and they are very happy to be able to spend time with a “very polite young man.”
A Family That Volunteers Together
My name is Doris, and my daughters and I volunteer together at various organizations, including the American Diabetes Association and Gold Coast Arts Center. We help with fundraising, whether it’s standing or helping to promote an event with handouts. It’s something we enjoy and teaches them to appreciate what they have. When we are not working events, we will donate clothes and toys to local churches and I encourage them to go through their stuff and pick out what they would like to donate. I think it’s teaching them a valuable lesson and it brings us closer as a family.
Marina, 17, Helps Kids with Special Needs
My daughter Marina gave up a paying job to volunteer at a no-kill dog shelter and to work with children with special needs. It is her passion and she hopes to attend college to help children with special needs. Her younger sister has disabilities and she has been the most caring sister. Marina attends buddy programs in her community to assist in any events where she can help enrich a special child’s needs.
Raising Funds for Alex’s Lemonade Stand
This past summer my daughter and I held a lemonade stand in honor of our cousin who died from cancer. We managed to raise $800 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand. Although my daughter Juliette was only 2 at the time I wanted to show her at a young age that it’s important to give to others no matter what their circumstance. She had a great time and we had a lot of support from family, neighbors, and friends. In the end Juliette walked away knowing she had helped sick children get better. We plan on hosting a lemonade stand every year and bring more awareness. Now, at 3 years old, she wants to help others. We have also started collecting old toys and clothes for the Lupus Foundation and Vets Connect.
Jayden, 9, Helps Those in Need
My son Jayden is in the Kids Care club for his school. He has helped make signs and donate food to the food pantry and people in need. He helps his school in raising funds for those in need and makes cards for the holidays for others who are less fortunate.
A Class Throws Birthday Parties in Homeless Shelters
Sixth-graders at The Green Vale School collaborated to bake and decorate cupcakes for “Birthday Wishes of Long Island”—a group that delivers birthday parties to children in homeless shelters. The students feel passionately that every child deserves a birthday party.
A Community Offers a Prayer of Protection
This past summer, Our Lady of Wisdom Regional School families and students got together and visited a local Suffolk County Police Department precinct to say a prayer of protection for them and to thank the officers for their service.
Breast Cancer Fundraising
My son Hunter and the seventh-grade Grand Avenue Middle School boys’ soccer team raised more than $1,000 for Breast Cancer research and did the Breast Cancer Walk at Jones Beach.
Samantha, 12, Helps Others with Challenges
My daughter Samantha is a very giving soul who loves to find ways to help her community. She has endured challenges as a 3½-pound preemie and wants to help others who face challenges in their lives. Whatever the cause she puts her all into it. She has collected food for our local food drive during the Thanksgiving season. She has even given her own money to charity. She loves cookies, but donated boxes we had bought from Girl Scouts to soldiers. She has helped bake goodies for families at the Ronald McDonald House.