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Way to go: Ryan Mayr of Smithtown

Ryan Mayr, a fourth-grader at Branch Brook Elementary School in Smithtown, collected about 170 winter coats last month in a school drive to benefit Long Island's homeless. Coats were donated to Pronto, a Brentwood-based outreach organization.

Ryan said he got the idea after he and his father saw a homeless man at a McDonald's in Manhattan on their trip to the Yankees World Series victory parade.

"My dad bought him breakfast and gave him money," said Ryan, 9. "When we got home that night, I asked my dad if there was more we could do."

With his father's help, Ryan brainstormed the idea for a coat drive and designed a flier to display in the school hallways with the permission of principal Ireen Westrack. They then placed a collection box in the school lobby and stored the donated coats in their garage.

"We see homeless people all the time in the city, and we don't really think much of it," said Ryan's father, Paul. "It was refreshing to see the size of his heart. He was really affected."

Ryan is a member of his school's chess club and plays baseball with a local travel team. He was honored for his coat drive efforts at a school board meeting earlier this month.

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