Set to have his Bar Mitzvah in March, Oceanside student David Acker had an idea. Understanding the tradition of taking on a charity or community service project in conjunction with the Jewish celebration, the 12-year-old thought up a way he could make a difference in the lives of children like him.
Several years ago, his brother Bryan, now 17, donated nearly $1,000 to the American Heart Association in Plainview by selling candy bars. Now it was David’s turn, and he and his mother, Rhona Acker, decided to collect money for gaming supplies to donate to Cohen Children’s Medical Center in Queens.
“Since I play [Xbox] a lot, I want all the children to play a lot,” David said, “so I wanted children that have to go [to the hospital] a lot to play and have some fun while they’re going through their treatment.”
Acker said she and David began spreading the word on Facebook and in school in search of donations, and added that David knocked on neighbors’ doors to find more donors. About $1800 — in cash, checks and GameStop gift cards — was gathered.
“What started with a little collection, just exploded,” Acker said. “It was amazing the amount of people that decided to donate.”
She said David — whose favorite video game is FIFA 17 — used the funds to purchase three Xbox consoles, 12 controllers and eight games from GameStop in Oceanside. The store even donated $100 to the cause, she added.
Anxiously awaiting his chance to drop off the gaming supplies, David visited the hospital on Feb. 22, and said he was delighted to see the face of the staff member at the front desk. “The person seemed really excited and I felt really good about it,” David said, “because it’s just such a good thing.”
He met with Katie Hess, special gifts officer for Northwell Health, and Amanda Filippazzo, a child life assistant at the medical center, who showed him around the hospital and presented him with a certificate to thank him for his donation.
Though David could not give the supplies to the children directly, Hess assured him and Acker that they would go to good use. The medical center’s existing gaming supplies for patients, located mainly in the play rooms, were in high demand, said Hess, and the additional consoles, controllers and games will service more children. She added that more controllers allows children to have fun with friends and staff members, instead of playing alone.
“The support of our young donors really means so much for us, to see kids helping other kids,” Hess said. “It’s really heart-warming to experience that.”