As Christmastime approaches, Babylon student Emily Meyer continues a tradition of giving back to local hospitals. As a 4-year-old, she became sick on Christmas Day and was rushed to Good Samaritan University Hospital’s emergency room.
After staying overnight, she awoke to find a sack of toys from hospital staff. Although Meyer was able to enjoy her Christmas prior to the visit, she was thankful for the staff’s gesture and now provides others with the same joy by donating toys to those in need.
Her efforts started small one year later when she and her grandfather donated 20 toys to Good Samaritan. While it wasn’t much, it was the start of a tradition that got her whole community involved.
“It was a lot of work, but it was so worth it,” Meyer said. “Just to see how many kids wanted to get involved, how many families were reaching out, saying, ‘What can we do to help?’”
As Emily’s Awesome Toy Drive grew, the need for growth emerged as well. Meyer said, “As it grew and grew, to the point where we were collecting thousands of toys, people were really interested in making it bigger.” Various organizations were also looking to donate money and grants to Meyer’s effort, and certifications were needed to make it a nonprofit.
After completing the necessary requirements, the Emily Meyer Foundation was born. Over 13 years the group has donated more than 20,000 toys to children who are ill or in the hospital.
Despite their success over the years, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. The pandemic was a speed bump for the group, but Meyer’s group persevered. Through scheduled drop-offs and outdoor deliveries, the foundation kept its mission alive.
“We still continued on. There’s no reason to stop, because hospitals needed it more than ever, so we just continued with what we could do,” Meyer said. In addition to toys, she also worked at her local food pantry and helped donate books for kids.
Although being away at school in Connecticut can also be a challenge, Meyer continues her efforts on the road with organizations on campus. She also continues to receive support from parents, family, and other volunteers to pack toys at her house and send them to hospitals.
For her efforts, Meyer received a Your Personal Purpose scholarship from the National Society of High School Scholars. While she is excited for what it can provide for her future, Meyer says, “It’s another great way for more people to find out about the foundation, so I see it as another great outlet.”
Although the foundation will operate a bit differently with Meyer away at school, she is grateful for the support and what the foundation has become. “It’s truly a story of turning a negative into a positive. I didn’t know I was going to get sick and honestly, it’s one of the best things that’s happened to me in a way because of what it’s turned into,” Meyer said.