If you think there’s nothing good on YouTube for kids, 7-year-old Emma Vulpi of East Meadow can prove otherwise.
Inspired by watching YouTube videos of other kids helping charities, Emma put every penny received for her birthday toward buying gifts for other kids in the Child Life Program at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola. Serving hospitalized children, the program, aside from the care and treatment it provides, offers pediatric patients a space for playtime and crafts.
“We were in the car,” said Michele Vulpi, Emma's mother, “and she’s like ‘Mommy, I know what I want to buy with my birthday money,’ and I was prepared for some big toy or who knows what.”
Instead, Emma made a not-so-usual request for a second-grader.
“She said she wanted to give all her money to the kids stuck in the 'crummy' hospital," Michelle said. "I was like, OK, with tears in my eyes."
The Vulpi's live a few blocks from Meadowbrook Elementary, and on their short but treasured walks to school, Emma and Michele spoke about what the kids might need. So they came up with a plan and went to Target, Five Below and other stores to find the particular things they wanted to buy.
“We tried to include puzzles and board games,” Michele said. “Plus toys that kids can bring back to their rooms when playtime is over.”
“I was really inspired by the song ‘Always Be Humble And Kind’ by Tim McGraw,” said Emma.
In addition to helping others, Emma also swims, plays sports and works with her grandfather at the Cornell Cooperative Extension, a farm in East Meadow featuring community and demonstration gardens.
"Emma happens to be a Junior Master Gardener, and she helps lead kids on tours and shows them how to grow vegetables," said Michele.
The mother-daughter duo have plans for next year and beyond. Emma's $300 toy donations filled 10 bags this year, and next year they’d like to double it to 20, then 40 the next year, and so on.”
“Maybe we'll get the kids some pajamas too,” Michele said. "Hospital clothes aren’t always that comfy.”
Michele held back tears while Emma explained her plan to create a chart so the family can track what they accumulate for future donations.
“This is really her,” Michele said of Emma. "When we shopped for the toys to donate, she didn’t ask for a single thing for herself. We also stopped at Friendly’s while we shopped, and Emma won a toy from the claw machine, and . . .”
“I gave it to another kid,” Emma said.