For their fifth annual Summer Luau fundraiser, members of the Little Saint Nick Foundation had expected to earn $20 thousand Instead, they had surpassed that with another nearly $10 thousand, all set to go back to the children in local hospitals.
Taking place at Dox, the well-known outdoor bar and restaurant set on beachfront in Island Park, the Hawaiian-themed event had live music, an open bar, buffet and a raffle. Around 250 people had attended on Thursday night, including 40 sponsors, all to celebrate and fundraise for the foundation.
The mission of the foundation is to ease the fear and isolation kids can face inside hospitals. Through donations, Little St. Nicks is able to donate gift bags on a daily basis to children in Cohen Children’s Medical Center and South Oaks hospital. Every 10 dollars raised is one gift bag, that normally holds items such as coloring books, crayons, stuffed animals and a home-made ‘get well soon’ card from another kid.
“Hospitals can be a scary place for kids, and these gift bags help to alleviate that scariness,” said Raymond Mohler Jr, the founder of Little St. Nick. When Mohler was four , he was diagnosed with a rare hip disease and was a patient at what is now Cohen Children’s Medical Center. While he still had to wear leg braces for two years, he felt fortunate that he was able to leave, but couldn’t stop thinking about his friends he had made that were still in the hospital.
“Over the years, I just kept thinking of ways I could help the kids with things they would want and what I would’ve wanted when I was in the hospital,” said Mohler. “I was in the emergency room for eight hours, and I would’ve loved to have something to immediately distract me and make me feel loved.”
The foundation continues to inspire kids to help other kids by encouraging them to make the ‘get well soon’ cards for those who are in the hospital. The Summer Luau was open to children of all ages, and had a table set where they could make cards with one another.
On behalf of Speakeasy, bar and restaurant in Long Beach, Jake Marlin had become a sponsor for the event because he liked that the foundation was working to inspire kids to help one another.
“Anyone can be a part of it, but it’s more about the kids that are helping other kids,” said Marlin. “They are teaching kids to be selfless and think about others, that there are other children out there who are less fortunate or that are in the hospital, and that they can help them.”
Members of the foundation were thrilled with the “record-breaking” funds made and are looking forward to the next events they will be holding throughout the rest of the year. Zack Andersen, D director of New York operations for Little St. Nick, has been with the foundation for 11 years, and said it has been amazing watching the foundation grow.
“With this event, we started with nine sponsorships and maybe one hundred guests, and now we have over 40 sponsorships and 250 to 300 guests. We are really thrilled with the turnout.”
Most of the raffle bags were donated by local businesses that wanted to give back to the community, while the owners of Dox had also donated the food for the event, so that more proceeds can be made to creating the gift bags.
“I like the fact that they are in the hospitals. I think it’s important that these kids have something that make them happy when they’re sick,” said Norah Kelleher, one of the owners of Dox.
It’s not just kids on Long Island, but kids from all over the country have been sending the foundation their own cards to distribute to the hospitals. From the Midwest to the foundation’s newest reach of Tampa, Florida, the foundation is looking to expand across the country, but to continue to find ways to keep their local community effect.
“It’s pretty amazing of how much we’ve grown, and I know it’s only the beginning,” said Mohler.