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Way to Go! Islip middle-schoolers raise money through ornaments

Islip Middle School students Kieran Freelin, left,

Islip Middle School students Kieran Freelin, left,  and Matthew Levy made holiday ornaments and raised more than $700 to benefit the nonprofit Gavin's Got Heart. Credit: Islip School District

Two Islip Middle School students found a festive way to raise money for a local charity that supports the families of children with congenital heart defects.

Seventh-grader Kieran Freelin and sixth-grader Matthew Levy used cookie cutters to make about 175 melted bead ornaments — including such shapes as bells, hearts and stars — with help from their families in December. The boys said they got the idea after Kieran and his mother, Jannine, saw a post about how to make handmade ornaments on Facebook.

Kieran and Matthew then held two donation drives in front of the Freelin family's home where the colorful ornaments were handed out for free with recipients encouraged to make donations of any amount. Their families helped spread the word about their efforts on social media.

In total, the boys raised more than $700 to benefit the Islip-based nonprofit Gavin's Got Heart.

"Everyone was really generous; we didn't expect to get half as much as that," Kieran, 12, said. Of the nonprofit, he said: "We've known them for a long time, and we know the things they do for others, so we wanted to do something nice for them."

Matthew, 11, added: "It was around Christmas time and we wanted to spread some joy and make other people happy."

— MICHAEL R. EBERT

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