For Max Rubenstein, it’s hard to think of children stuck in a hospital with nothing to entertain them while being poked and prodded. So when the Galloway School sophomore was selected to create a charity, he knew exactly what he wanted to do: raise money to supply hospitals with video games for their young patients.
“I think it’s awful to be woken up at 3 in the morning to be poked at and (not) have anything to take your mind off of it,” Max said.
Max was one of 20 Georgia students chosen by the nonprofit Giving Point to create a charity. Inspired by his grandmother, who recently died from ovarian cancer and loved to play games, Max named his charity Game Givers.
“She had a neon-green Gameboy, and we played Tetris and everything,” Max said.
In about two months he has raised $4,800. He is using the first $3,600 to purchase video game consoles and games that he will donate Friday, Oct. 30, to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Some of that money came from donations in his grandmother’s name and the rest through game tournaments.
“If you charge $10 for the tournament and have 40 people come, that’s an easy $400,” Max said. “I wanted people to feel like their money was going somewhere.”
Max is personally buying the consoles and games that he will deliver to Children’s, hoping to give hospitalized kids something to smile about on Halloween.
“Something I find really upsetting is … when you raise all this money for a charity and you just hand off a check and don’t see where it goes,” Max said. “You don’t see the impact. I didn’t want to just give Children’s Healthcare a check and say, ‘Oh, go buy games with this.’ I want to buy the games. I really, really am excited. I think that it’s going to be a really great experience.”
Max is also a member of 21st Century Leaders, a collaboration between business executives and a diverse group of students selected across the state to develop leadership and business skills. He was one of 75 selected out of 800 applicants.
After the donation to Children’s, Max wants to move on and donate games to every other hospital in the area, one at a time. To raise the money, he plans on partnering with his school’s Video Game Tournament Club and talk to middle-schoolers at the Davis Academy, his alma mater, about hosting game tournaments as part of their mitzvah projects.
“I’m going to really be heavily marketing it at Davis,” Max said. “Imagine having 20 mitzvah projects going on and the impact that that can create.”
Max’s mother, Ali Rubenstein, said she’s proud of what her son has done and what he hopes to accomplish in the Atlanta area.
“I really just marvel at Max and his ability to want to engage kids and to want to do this,” Rubenstein said. “It would be very easy for a 15-year-old to stay at home and play video games, but to see him want to take this to sick kids, it’s amazing.”
Rubenstein said her son has put a lot of work into his charity the past two months, going to meetings, creating a website and logo, getting a banner donated by Alltair Sign to use as an advertisement, and raising money, among other things. He met with representatives of Paramount Pictures, which has decided to donate $1,000 and is sending 10 boxes with games, T-shirts and gaming chairs.
The Paramount donations will go to Grady Memorial Hospital, the next hospital Max is working with.
“He’s really the one who has made all these calls and had all these meetings,” Rubenstein said. “He has a clear vision of what he wants to do. He wants to be a business owner when he grows up, and this is kind of his first time running a business. It’s been a really great experience.”