On Friday, July 5th HLF Young Ambassador Allen Magie of Haskell, New Jersey visited The Children’s Hospital at Saint Peter’s in New Brunswick.  The purpose of Allen’s visit was to deliver 30+ boxes filled with toys and games collected during his independent service project. Not only will Allen’s ISP benefit many children undergoing treatment at Saint Peter’s, it assisted him in honoring his friend and fellow hockey player.  All toys and games collected were brand new items in their original packaging for the safety of the children being treated at the hospital.

“Being a part of the HLFYA program is an honor and helps you look inside yourself deciding what’s important.  I wanted my project to benefit others but it was important to honor my friend, Matt Adonis. He inspired me when we met 2 years ago at a benefit I volunteered at sponsored by Skate It Forward, Inc. and Team Matt. From that time, our families had an instant connection. Just before Matt entered 4th grade, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor called medullablastoma.  He underwent surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and spinal taps. Unfortunately, Matt missed school and couldn’t play hockey. I met him in December of 2017 and continued sending him letters, notes, cards and hockey cards throughout his treatments. Our families stayed in touch. Whenever I saw Matt, he was always smiling no matter how sick he felt; that was inspirational.  I wanted my ISP for HLFYA to be one that honored him. Matt was treated at Saint Peter’s, and his mom was nice enough to connect me with Amanda from the Saint Peter’s Child Life Program.”

Allen began his Toy & Game Drive by hanging up a flyer in a local hometown store, Kressaty’s Pharmacy, which is owned by his aunt’s family.  “My aunt allowed me to hang flyers and use the store as a drop off location. I was planning on running my drive for one week, hoping to collect items for the kids.  Before I could blink, there were countless customers dropping off games, dolls, trucks and gift cards. I ended up extending my drive for the entire month.”

Allen also received help from the staff and students of Haskell Elementary School. The school’s principal allowed him to make copies of the flyer, and each teacher and student received one.  The main office was used as a drop off point. “My principal, Mr. Doolittle, and all of my teachers at Haskell School are great people. I can’t say enough about my school and how much the students and staff helped this drive become a success.  With Mr. Doolittle’s help, I can’t say how many games and toys were collected – there were just too many to count.”

Allen decided to extend his drive, handing out flyers to his hockey teammates.  “My hockey teammates are awesome. I was receiving boxes from Amazon and Wilson in the mail from my teammates who went online to order footballs, basketballs, games – they had them shipped to my house. I would show up to practice and my teammates would be handing me bags of toys.”

In addition, Allen also posted his flyer on his Instagram page and asked his parents to post it on their Facebook pages. “Before I knew it, people were calling asking me to pick up items. My Dad was driving me to people’s homes to pick them up. My Mom is a teacher and also had colleagues from Macopin Middle School in West Milford donating.”

“My grandma, family members and friends were also making donations.  I couldn’t have done it without them. My parents were giving up so much of their time to help me pick up items and securely box them up.”

On Friday, July 5th Allen delivered the toys and games to Saint Peter’s.  During his visit, Allen met the staff from the Child Life Program in person for the first time and was joined by Matt and his family.  “It was such a great morning meeting the staff at Saint Peter’s. They were grateful and appreciative for all of the items I collected through my drive.  The visit was even more special because Matt and his family joined us. I’m happy to say I got to honor my friend for his strength throughout his illness.  I’m even happier to say Matt is back in school and is back on the ice. He’s doing great!”

Written by 2019 HLFYA Allen Magie | View more photos from the Toy Drive here

Person Who Inspires Me:  My parents, Shane Hearn of the USMA, and my Pop

School: Haskell Elementary School