A Levittown student is using his birthday as an opportunity to give gifts to others.
Matthew Hartmann, a second-grader at Abbey Lane Elementary School, raised $1,125 by asking friends and family to donate money in lieu of gifts to benefit the Richard M. Brodsky Foundation in Atlantic Beach. He learned about the foundation after his mother, Maria, ran in its annual 5K AIDS/Cancer Run/Walk last June.
The foundation raises funds and awareness to find a cure for AIDS and to benefit those living with HIV/AIDS. It also supports people who have brain cancer and raises awareness about orphans in sub-Saharan Africa who need vaccinations, clean drinking water and clothing.
"I'm surprised I was able to raise so much," said Matthew, who turned 8 last month. "I'm happy I decided to do it."
In response to Matthew's efforts, Brodsky gave $3,000 worth of toys to children at Abbey Lane Elementary who were in need. The toys were donated by the nonprofit K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers in conjunction with Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us.
Last year, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan received more than $1,600 from Matthew's birthday donations.
"It's truly amazing to see how Matthew's act of generosity and kindness started a chain reaction that helps so many people, both locally and around the world," Principal George Maurer said.