Emily Meyer was just 5 years old when she was admitted to Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, New York, on Christmas night.
While she was recovering, someone from Child Life stopped by her room to give her a present. She and her mom protested — Emily had already received some, after all — but they insisted that every child would get a gift!
“The Child Life team explained that no child should be in the hospital during the holiday season, but if they are, they should feel the joy of the holidays while they are there,” Emily said.
That moment made a lasting impact on her. She decided she wanted to help the charity provide gifts to kids who are stuck in the hospital over the holidays, so she started her own toy drive in 2010.
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Emily’s Awesome Toy Drive set out to collect new, unwrapped gifts that would be delivered to sick kids, and it’s still going today!
“We collected about 20 or so toys the first year,” Emily said. “Every year from then on, it just grew and grew and grew and grew. It just became this whole big thing.”
Even the novel coronavirus pandemic couldn’t keep her from her mission! She is celebrating her 10th year of helping sick children by matching last year’s donations of $2,500, despite the challenges of isolation.
In order to hit that goal, she started collecting toys way back in the summer months and created an Amazon wish list to give people a contact-free delivery option.
Hospitalized kids at Good Samaritan, Cohen Children’s Medical Center, Stony Brook University Hospital, The John Theissen Foundation, Angela’s House, and the Ronald McDonald House will receive a present this Christmas, and it’s all thanks to Emily’s efforts!
The kindhearted 15-year-old is currently a sophomore at New Babylon High School in New York. She collects and organizes the thousands of toys, games, and stuffed animals she receives in the basement of her home.
Even better, Emily’s Awesome Toy Drive is a family affair! Her parents help with the organization, wrapping, and delivery of the toys, and they love it just as much as Emily does.
“When kids are able to play and use toys to distract them, it makes a stay at the hospital so much easier,” her mom, Tara Decola, said. “It’s been amazing how it’s grown over the years and knowing that she is able to provide comfort and care to anyone ill just gives us a lot of joy as a family.”
Can you believe she started this when she was just 5 years old? What a resourceful child! We can’t wait to see what this teen philanthropist does next.
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