Winthrop-University Hospital’s Pediatric Department in Mineola overflowed with toys of all shapes and sizes, from dolls to board games, on Jan. 4 when New York State Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr. and his helpers from Mepham High School delivered a load of goodies collected before the holidays.
Through Fuschillo’s “Extend the Holidays” drive, the senator delivered more than 1,500 toys to children at Winthrop who are suffering long-term illnesses. The idea behind the project is to brighten the kids’ outlook long after the holidays.
Joining Fuschillo to distribute the toys were 10th-grade representatives of Mepham’s student government, with their adviser, science teacher Mary Corebelli-Ferrante, as well as members of the Nassau County Sheriff Correction Officer’s Benevolent Association, and Laborers Local 66 and 1298, all of whom helped collect the toys.
“I applaud all of you for all that you have done,” said Warren Rosenfeld, chairman of Winthrop’s Pediatric Department.
“In Hurricane Sandy, in tough economic times, people are still very generous,” Fuschillo said.
“Many teachers and students help with the collection,” said Ferrante of Mepham’s effort. “It’s really a school-wide event.”
Tenth-grader Valerie Munzo said, “I was surprised there were so many toys. People are so generous.”
“It’s incredible how toys there are,” piped in classmate Jackie Nuzzo.
Rosenfeld brought the Mepham students to the hospital’s Child Life Room, a “safe haven” where children can go to play, without having to worry about treatment.
Children’s books and games covered the shelves that lined the brightly lit room, with small tables and chairs in the center of the room and a foosball table at the entrance. “This is such a cheerful place,” Corebelli-Ferrante said.
Mepham Principal Michael Harrington was on hand and noted that the Child Life Room could present volunteer opportunities for Mepham students. Rosenfeld said volunteer positions are available and are highly competitive.
He added that hospital work is highly rewarding. ‘Every person at Winthrop is taking care of people and giving back,” he said. “It’s a big team.”
Also participating in the collection were students from Merrick Avenue Middle School, who created a coloring book of their own, with familiar cartoon characters. Fuschillo handed out copies of the book during the toy distribution.