How Your Old LEGO® Bricks Can Help A Child In Need

November 02, 2017

Maria Mongiardo, 21, was born and raised near Boston, Massachusetts. She is currently a senior at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts studying Biology and plans to get her masters in public health. She is also a senior writer for the nonprofit LupusChick where she has been working for the last three years. She is interested in research on chronic illnesses, mental health, and ways to educate the general public on invisible illnesses like Lupus. In Maria’s free time she enjoys spending time with friends and family, volunteering for her school’s relay for life, hiking, and blogging.

Young adults Gabriel and Sebastian Fadel from Massachusetts have started their non-profit called 96 Bricks. Their organization focuses on providing disadvantaged children around the world with access to constructive play. The packaged LEGO® bricks are shipped to refugee communities, Native American reservations, and Ugandan villages where they are distributed to children free of charge. They want to inspire a sense of hope in these children. Gabriel Fadel shared about how he and Sebastian wanted to start this non-profit and the amazing acts of kindness they have accomplished.

The idea for creating this nonprofit originated following a discussion from their family vacation. Gabe Fadel says, “The purpose of 96 Bricks is to provide children who have been displaced or live in underdeveloped communities with easy and free access to constructive play.” The two brothers have been sourcing the bricks from donations from the public of either the bricks themselves or cash donations and then transporting the bricks directly to the communities. It was impossible for the Fadel brothers to ignore the people affected by the refugee crisis. The children in the camps have lost their homes, their toys, and everything else they had in their community. They realized that there were a number of organizations dedicated to providing food, water, and shelter to these people, but few addressing the lack of suitable education and constructive playtime. They wanted to give children, especially young children, the opportunities to grow and explore through play, which they would otherwise miss out on.

The primary goal of 96 Bricks is all about giving children in these communities a sense of hope. Hope for a better future for themselves and their families, reinforced by the knowledge that there is a caring international community of people. The nonprofit doesn’t promise to single-handedly solve all their problems or redefine the way we do education, just to bring a little bit of happiness back into their lives. 96 Bricks believes that getting a gift or a toy for them to keep sends a special message; that there are people out there that care about them. 96 Bricks has been able to have brick drives in Waltham, Lynnfield, and amongst the Cape Ann Lacrosse league in Massachusetts. Starting in the summer,  bricks have been distributed to kids around the world. They’ve also given presentations at three different public schools in Massachusetts. Each of those schools went on to organize collections on their behalf, and because of this, they have received several thousand bricks. Ultimately, they hope to be able to do the same at other schools and expand the reach of their program.

The best advice 96 Bricks can give to those who want to start a nonprofit is not to get lost in the big picture. Gabe Fadel says, “Set manageable goals and milestones, and figure out the best way to achieve them.” The brothers find that this strategy keeps them from getting overwhelmed and helps them stay focused and motivated. Ultimately, the nonprofit is important to the Fadel brothers. They have seen the conditions of these children and their families firsthand. They can’t just ignore the things we have seen; it is their responsibility to help those we know are in need in any way that we can. Their ultimate goal is to take 96 Bricks to the national level, to get all manner of people, communities, and companies involved in our mission. They have a long way to go, but they are confident in their ability and the generosity of people across the nation. Beyond that, they want to bring the bricks to as many communities as possible and where they’ll have the most significant impact, both in the United States and internationally.

Every donation, from the smallest cash donation to an enormous box of bricks, helps! The 96 bricks team encourages everyone who is interested in letting their friends and family know about them, as well as organizing collections within their schools and communities.