Maxwell Sarkissian, Wyckoff
Most 7th graders spend their summer enjoying the abundance of free time and typical summer activities. Not the case with 12-year-old Maxwell Sarkissian, a 7th grader at Eisenhower Middle School in Wyckoff, who decided to make his summer a bit more interesting and meaningful by helping others.
He started a business called Max’s Helping Hands with the intent to help local neighbors with small projects, such as landscaping, lawn maintenance and mail collection, while away on vacation. However Sarkissian’s mission, and his small business, soon grew into a bigger endeavor. In addition to helping out in his local community he also decided to take on raising funds for worthy causes and helping those less fortunate.
“I knew I wanted to start a business this past summer and thought that it would be a good idea to give back to kids who have less than me, since I really don’t need anything,” Sarkissian says.
Inspired by his mother and grandmother, Sarkissian focused on making a difference in Paterson. “My mom works with the City of Paterson employees and has been helping them for many years, and I knew, by going with her a few times to families that we help there, that they do not have very much at all,” he says. “My grandmother, who grew up in Paterson, and was a teacher, suggested I give to kids my age through school supplies. I thought that was a good idea and something I could do.”
Summer came to a close, but Sarkissian’s business and mission continued to grow. Despite the demands of school, sports and religious and club activities, Sarkissian pushed forward doing all he could in his spare time.
His achievements did not go unnoticed and soon he gained the support of friends. “I didn’t think I would get such a great response,” he says. “I had no idea how many people would support me when I started. I was surprised. There was nothing negative that I heard from anyone. Instead, people were very positive and supportive. Sometimes they would pay me double, just because they knew I what I was doing. Everyone was very nice and loved my idea.”
To date, Sarkissian has presented $500 worth of pens, pencils, notebooks, white boards and erasers to School No. 12, a K-8 school in Paterson.
“Shopping for all the supplies and delivering them that day to the school, it made me feel like I did something that made a difference,” he says. “I had no bumps in the road. It was just a lot of work!”
Principal Andre S. McCollum Sr. gratefully accepted Sarkissian’s donation and said the items, many on his teachers’ wish list for their students, would make their ability to teach that much easier. He also encouraged Sarkissian to continue his good deeds toward others and hoped this was just the beginning of his support to those in need.
“I have not completely decided how I am going to proceed. I am thinking about asking the school for something they need that is big, for example, basketball hoops on their playground, and just aiming for that goal,” Sarkissian says.
His advice for other kids is that everyone can take some initiative to help others.
“Use your extra time in the summer to make a difference. Anyone can do it. It made me feel that, even though I am only 12, you can still help other people, no matter how old you are,” he says. “Anyone can do it and we should. It is a good feeling.”