Three New York Islanders players took a break from the ice on Monday, December 18, handing out presents and holiday cheer to pediatric patients at Maimonides Medical Center.
Besides giving gifts, Islanders starting lineup players Anthony Beauvillier, Scott Mayfield and Adam Pelech signed autographs, took part in arts and crafts and mingled with the patients as part of Maimonides’ Child Life, Creative Arts and Education Program. The program provides recreational and therapeutic programming that makes hospital stays a bit less daunting for children and their families.
“We’re going to deliver some toys to some kids that are in a little tough situation here at the hospital,” said Mayfield prior to giving out the goodies. “It feels really good to give back. Earlier in December we bought all these toys, so now they’re going to get a special little present here from us. I think that they’ll be happy and it brings joy to us as well.”
“We got everything from Legos to games and Barbie dolls. We went to Toys R’ Us and had a nice little shopping spree. We do it every year at the holidays, go and buy some toys and come to the hospital and deliver them personally. It’s not just for them, it’s for us too, so it’s definitely a special time,” Mayfield continued.
“It feels good. I didn’t expect them, but just knowing that people who are successful can come and be so nice here is great,” said Randy Rincon, 15, who got some authentic Islanders merchandise along with autographs from the three players.
Later on in the afternoon, the players made their way to the playroom area, where they crafted decorative tea light holders using tissue paper alongside patients Denise and William.
“It’s very difficult to be in the hospital as a child at any time, but over the holidays it’s especially sad because holidays are usually times that are spent with your family at home. Anything that can brighten up the day of a child in the hospital is very special, especially around this time of the year,” said Chief of Pediatrics at Maimonides Children’s Hospital Dr. Jeffrey Avner.
Avner noted that Maimonides has partnered with other sports organizations, such as the Brooklyn Nets, to bring smiles to the faces of pediatric patients over the years.
“Any time public figures are able to come in and give back to the community, it’s very rewarding for them, but for families to be able to have contact with people that they idolize that they wouldn’t typically have contact with, it really makes a big difference,” said Director of Child Life Lenia Batas.
This article originally appeared in the Brooklyn Reporter.