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East Rockaway teen lends hand during pandemic

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As the coronavirus pandemic hit Long Island hard, Lynbrook High School student Benjamin Svartz couldn’t stand idly by.

The East Rockaway resident, 15, decided to give back by purchasing and donating masks and hand sanitizer to more than 300 people in need in Lynbrook, East Rockaway, Valley Stream, Oceanside and other local areas.

“I love helping others, and I believe that when you help others, you will eventually receive good things in return,” Svartz said. “My mission in life is to help people, and I like seeing the smiles on people’s faces when I help them.” 

Svartz, who will start his sophomore year at LHS in September, added that ever since he was in sixth grade, he has been passionate about helping others and serving his community. In the first few weeks after school closed because of the pandemic, he said, he was sad and bored because he and his friends had plans for the rest of the school year that they couldn’t follow through on. However, he said, when he heard what was happening around the world because of the coronavirus, it spurred him to help others who were less fortunate. His efforts included cooking for many older adults and helping his neighbors with housework, and then purchasing masks and sanitizer to donate.

“I want to make a difference in the world and impact others, and I have helped people who didn’t have or who couldn’t leave their homes,” he said. “I’m fortunate that I’m healthy, so I want to help those who aren’t.”

Svartz said he also hoped that by helping others, he would inspire other teens around his age to help in similar ways. 

“All my friends are into watching TV, Netflix and video games, and I don’t play video games because I would rather help people,” he said. “I want to encourage other young people to do more than just sit inside.” 

Svartz’s parents, Jackie Edelstein and Haim Svartz, both said they think their son inspires others. 

“Even though we’re stuck in a pandemic, he is pushing himself to help others, and I’m so proud of him,” Edelstein said. “He always wakes up early to help others.”

Haim said the virus brought a great deal of fear, but his son is determined to help. “People are scared of leaving their house, but my son isn’t,” he said. “He’s doing things that other kids his age don’t do, and I wish more people would do things like this.”

In the future, Svartz said he hoped to become a surgeon to continue his mission of helping others. 

“I want to help more than just locally, but globally,” he said. “There’s so much more you can accomplish by being in the world helping others.”