Matthew McKinnon, who would have been 15 years-old this year, had a wish to fill an 18-wheeler with toys and deliver it to kids who are ill or in need. His mom, AnneMarie, of Hampton Bays, is making that wish come true for her son, who passed away on Jan. 16, 2011 after an illness that led to cardiac arrest.
"It is the one thing I can still do for him," said AnneMarie, whose charity, Matthew's Wish, is in its second year.
Last Christmas, AnneMarie said donations of toys flooded in and Matthew's Wish was able to deliver 400 toys to the Ronald McDonald House and Cohen Children's Hospital in New Hyde Park while also providing 40 families at the Stony Brook Outreach Center with even more toys.
"We filled a 14-foot U-Haul," she said.
This year, she hopes to do even more, collecting toys for not only the Stony Brook Outreach Center, the children's hospital and the Ronald McDonald House, but also for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
To ensure that enough toys are collected, Matthew's Wish has drop boxes at numerous locations across Suffolk County and locally. Drop boxes are available at Suffolk County National Bank in Hampton Bays and Sag Harbor and at Essential Chiropractic in Westhampton Beach.
Boxes are even available as far away as Westchester County, where former Hampton Bays resident Wendy Pregiato now resides.
Pregiato said AnneMarie had mentioned the idea of the charity to her and she immediately jumped in to help.
"AnneMarie is a beautiful, lively, wonderful, sparkling person and you won't find a better family organization that is run with love for a little boy whose wish was to bring a smile to a sick child over the holidays," said Pregiato.
To help garner additional donations this year, she petitioned local schools in Eastchester, which have agreed to adopted the charity by collecting toys.
All the donations will be brought to Brentwood on Dec. 15 for a parade, in Matthew's honor.
The parade, which features a visit from Santa, starts at Brentwood's main fire station and ends with a party at Matthew's grandparents' home.
The following is a listing Toy Drop Locations:
- Suffolk County National Bank branches in Hampton Bays, Amityville, West Babylon, Sayville and Sag Harbor
- Dynamite Dance Academy - 465C Medford Ave., Patchogue
- Out of the Park Burgers - 101 South Research Pl., Central Islip
- Brentwood Fire Dept (Main House) - 125 4th St., Brentwood
- Brentwood Fire Dept (East House On Broadway) - 26 Fulton St., Brentwood
- Physical Therapy & Sport Services - 1173-28 Veterans Memorial Hwy., Hauppauge
- Essential Chiropractic, Dr. KJ Malone - 204 Montauk Hwy., Westhampton Beach
For more information on Matthew's Wish, visit them on Facebook here.