One local teenager is giving back in a big way to a hospital close to his heart.
Sixteen-year-old Bay Ridge native Christopher Safi is spending his holidays collecting toys for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, a hospital he spent some time in as a child.
Safi was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer at 14 months old. Today, he is one of very few survivors of the disease – thanks, in large part, to Sloan.
Feeling grateful, he is spending his holiday season mirroring Santa Claus, and working to spread holiday cheer to those, he knows first-hand, need it most.
“The reason I’m doing this drive is because I want to put a smile on the children’s faces,” he said, adding that it’s Christmastime and he wants to channel that joy. “When I was younger, I had a rare type of cancer which led me near death. As I got older, I realized what I had been through made me want to make a change and tell the children that they’re not alone.”
Safi is hoping to collect toys for children as young as newborn and as old as 18. Gift cards will also be accepted, though hospitals discourage the donation of stuffed animals and clothes.
The Safi family will deliver the toys to Sloan the Friday before Christmas Eve. The drive will end on Thursday, December 20. Toys are currently being collected at the Home Reporter/Brooklyn Spectator office at 9733 4th Avenue, open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Safi hopes all people can take note from a prominent Ellen DeGeneres quote this holiday season: “Be kind to one another.”