SUNY Downstate and MVP Foundation Partner for Another Successful Dream Gift Toy Drive For Sick and Chronically Ill Children

By Office of Communications & Marketing | Dec 21, 2022

Event celebrates five years of partnership to spread holiday cheer for sick or chronically ill children and their families; highlights more than a decade of Downstate generosity

BROOKLYN, NY (12/22/22) — SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University and Manhattan Ventures Partners Foundation (MVP Foundation) celebrated its ongoing partnership of donating toys to children in Downstate’s Pediatrics Unit. This is the fifth year that the MVP Foundation has joined Downstate, leveraging its resources to bring joy to children who are sick or chronically ill.

Regardless of background, the children are invited to choose a gift they want for the holiday—many of them asking Santa for a “dream gift.” Through generous donations obtained by the MVP Foundation, these gifts are purchased and delivered to the Pediatrics Unit at Downstate for distribution. MVP Foundation purchases the gifts, and parents and guardians present them to their children.

“The impact of the Dream Gift Toy Drive on families in our community is quite significant, and we’re truly grateful for the continued partnership with the MVP Foundation,” said Department of Pediatrics Chair Stephen Wadowski, M.D. “Children in our care often come from families who find it difficult to make ends meet, especially around holidays when their children are hospitalized. Children’s smiles and happiness when they receive their dream gifts are immeasurable and heartwarming.”

“Every child deserves to witness the magic of the holiday season, and it is our goal to help make that happen with the Dream Gift Toy Drive,” said MVP Foundation Executive Director Jared Carmel. “For many, the gifts we provide are the only ones they receive. The best part is that the parents or guardians are the heroes because the gifts come from them or Santa, as the Foundation stays anonymous. For 2023 and beyond, we intend to expand to other regions to try and replicate what we have done for the children at Downstate.”

Downstate Child Life & Parenting Education Program Director Lisa Smith and Structured Cabling IT Staff Assistant Jimmy Doyle have been collecting toys for children in the Pediatrics Unit for over a decade. They were joined by the MVP Foundation five years ago to provide more toys to children.

“There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing a child’s face light up with a special toy or gift,” said Lisa Smith. “For parents struggling during this time, it is also a great joy to see the happiness in their children’s faces, and just for a moment or two, to forget the challenges their child might be facing. Working with Jimmy, who is immensely committed to this project, also offers us the chance to expand our gift-giving each year, making more children happy.”

“We would like to thank the MVP Foundation Inc. for their generous gifts and spreading joy to the children being treated at Downstate during the holiday season,” said UHD Chief Executive Officer David H. Berger, M.D., FACS. “Lisa and Jimmy have been critical to collecting donations and toys for the children; without them, this partnership could not be possible.”

In 2021, the MVP Foundation Inc. provided more than 120 dream gifts to the children at UHD, including Nintendo Switches, TVs, AirPods, Uggs, Jordans, laptops, toys, dollhouses, iPads, essential items for infants, and more. This year, Queens-based Creative Jazz Organization, Inc., (CJO), also provided a donation of toys collected at their annual gala.

MVP Foundation has long been a friend of SUNY Downstate. During the run-up to and the apex of the coronavirus pandemic, they coordinated, sourced, purchased, and donated critical supplies of PPE and other necessities for Downstate. To donate to support the Dream Gift program, go to GoFundMe.

About The MVP Foundation Inc.

The goal of the MVP Foundation Inc. is to spread holiday cheer and anonymously change the lives of chronically ill children while making their guardians the heroes. The process starts with children at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University asking Santa for a dream gift. The MVP Foundation Inc. purchases the gifts, and parents and guardians then place the dream gifts under the tree from Santa.

About SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is the borough’s only academic medical center for health education, research, and patient care. It is a 342-bed facility serving the healthcare needs of New York City and Brooklyn’s 2.6 million residents. University Hospital at Downstate (UHD) is Downstate’s teaching hospital, backed by an outstanding medical school’s expertise and world-class academic center research facilities. More than 800 physicians, representing 53 specialties and subspecialties—many of them ranked as tops in their fields—comprise Downstate’s staff. 

In addition to high-risk neonatal and infant services, pediatric nephrology, and dialysis (kidney diseases)—and offering the only kidney transplantation program in Brooklyn, among many other distinctive programs—Downstate also sponsors a major learning center for young children with developmental disorders and disabilities. In addition to UHD, Downstate comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative, including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter at @sunydownstate.