Griffin’s Islands in the Sun: Sophomore Raises Over $10K for Children’s Health Causes in RINY

By Thomas Daly ’18

Of the many lessons instilled in Chaminade students, giving back to the community represents one of the most selfless answers to the call to love our neighbors as we would ourselves. A current sophomore at Chaminade, Griffin Jusko has demonstrated this love through his extensive charity work – both on Long Island and in Rhode Island – over the past several summers.  

Griffin began his charity work a few summers ago in Rhode Island, where he set his mind to assisting the state’s only children’s hospital. Since his family owns a summer home nearby, Griffin saw firsthand the sadness of the many child patients at Hasbro Children’s Hospital.  “While I spent my summers enjoying summer break, I was moved deeply by the misery some children had to deal with when they should have been enjoying their time off from school,” said Griffin.

Griffin Jusko ’19 presents his donation to the president of the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island, Matthew Campos, and Volunteer and Program Manager Betti McClellan.
Griffin Jusko ’19 presents his donation to the president of the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island, Matthew Campos, and Volunteer and Program Manager Betti McClellan.

Moved with compassion for these children, Griffin went straight to work. An ambitious 13-year-old focused on his goal, Griffin started raising funds for the hospital right away. By selling tomatoes from his backyard, he grew profits straight out of the ground, as his garden consisted of nearly 250 plants. By the end of that first summer, Griffin had raised roughly $1,100, all of which was donated directly to the Hasbro Children’s Hospital.

After that meaningful summer experience in the Ocean State, Griffin wanted to help those in need closer to home. This way, he could see his hard work helping his fellow Long Islanders, particularly his fellow children.  By donating the funds he raised nearby, Griffin could also visit those he was helping.  

“The [Hasbro Children’s] Hospital was a great beginning to help get my feet wet, but I was ready to help those in need right down the block,” said Griffin. “The money was only half the battle. The second part was to have easier access to visit those receiving the money. I wanted these people to know I was helping them, along with hundreds of others.”

Griffin soon reached out to the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island, located by the Queens border in New Hyde Park. This 42-room house helps many hurting families as they suffer through the sickness of their children, and as they attempt to bear the burden of medical bills and healthcare expenses, by sheltering and feeding those families with children in nearby hospitals. This allows for easy and quick access as the families visit their sick children.

Griffin has worked in conjunction with the Ronald McDonald House for three summers now, raising nearly $9,000 to help the families housed there. He continues to raise money with his tomato stand, using social media to raise awareness and drive charity in the community. Public support has also come from local newspapers including The Oyster Bay Guardian, and from coverage that recently aired on News 12 Long Island.

This fall, Griffin joined with Chaminade’s Sophomore General Student Organization (GSO) to set up a tent at the Atlantic Steamer Firehouse in Oyster Bay during the town’s Oyster Festival. The students and their moderator, Mr. Salvatore Garofalo ’08, greatly appreciated the hospitality of the firehouse, as the group was allowed to set up their tent very close to the nearby festival. Nearly 250,000 people attended the fest, so it was the perfect time for Griffin to gain support and contributions. He and his fellow Chaminade volunteers met with tremendous success at the event, raising about $2,000 for the Ronald McDonald House.  

President of the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island, Matthew Campos, receives Griffin Jusko's donation along with Mr. Garofalo.
President of the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island, Matthew Campos, receives Griffin Jusko’s donation from the Oyster Bay Oyster Festival along with Mr. Garofalo.

“When Griffin first asked for help with the Oyster Festival, he told me he had been raising money for the Ronald McDonald House for nearly three years. I was shocked that a sophomore had been raising money at such a young age,” said Mr. Garofalo. “I was more than pleased to send several General Student Organization members to help Griffin. I personally visited the stand on Saturday to see for myself the impressive work of Griffin and his fellow Chaminade volunteers. The setup and professionalism that both Griffin and the others showed was extremely impressive and heartwarming.”

As Griffin continues to gain support for his cause, he thanks all those who have helped him along the way, from volunteers in his community to Chaminade’s General Student Organization. He looks forward to pushing the limits of how much one sophomore in high school can do to help children who are in need.

“Just think of the world we could have tomorrow if kids help kids today,” said Griffin. “I would like to help this world become a reality and do my best every day to do so. I always welcome help and thank my fellow Chaminade students for their support.”

As this devoted sophomore gives back to his community in such a profound way, he exemplifies the charity valued so highly by many Chaminade students. Griffin’s charity work is an action taken toward the betterment of the world; even when limited to a local community setting, these actions represent a most moving testimony to a Catholic love for one’s neighbor.