Andrew Granger this year made his best effort yet in gathering and giving gifts to sick children.
The fifth-grader at Dickinson Avenue Elementary School in Northport has collected several thousand toys in recent years in an annual "Friends of Andrew" drive benefiting local children hospitalized in the holiday season.
Andrew said he was inspired to start the toy drive based on his own experience battling neuroblastoma, a rare type of childhood cancer.
"When I was in the hospital, I was lucky enough to get lots of gifts," said Andrew, 11, who said he decided to pay it forward when he got older. "I just like putting smiles on people's faces. Every smile counts."
To promote the event, Andrew said, he posts fliers and puts collection bins in his school and local businesses asking people to donate new unwrapped toys, games, books and stuffed animals. This past holiday season he collected his biggest total ever: more than 750 toys.
He and his family then bring the items to NYU Medical Center, Steven D. Hassenfeld Children's Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, Ronald McDonald houses of Long Island and New York City, and Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of Long Island.