By Stephanie Meditz
In the spirit of the holidays, the Middle Village community honors the kindness and generosity of PS/IS 49 fifth grader Maksymilian Zysk.
While trick-or-treating on Halloween, Zysk noticed an empty candy bowl that had been raided by older children, and filled it with his own candy for others to enjoy.
He filled several empty candy bowls that night, but he and his mother, Monika Zysk, had a special encounter on their way home.
After he filled the empty candy bowl outside Tess Atannav’s home, a woman standing behind them told her own son not to take the candy.
“Max was saying, ‘Yes, I’m doing this so other kids can enjoy it and your beautiful boy can have it,’” Zysk said of her son. “This is the first year he never said, ‘Look, Mom, how many candies I have in my bag.’ He was saying, ‘Mom, look how many little acts of kindness I did today. That feels so good.’”
Later that evening, she was scrolling through Facebook and saw a post looking for a boy whose description matched her son’s Halloween costume.
“There were already 150 messages within half an hour saying, ‘You have to find that boy’…The whole community came together to actually look for Max,” she said.
Zysk contacted Atannav, who told her that two teenagers had emptied her candy bowl as soon as she left the house to take her children trick-or-treating.
“[Atannav] said they were so upset because it was not a little kid, it was teenagers who did this. And she said [Max] came just all of a sudden minutes after and filled up the whole bowl,” Zysk said.
Zysk made sure her son saw the positive impact of his deed and had him read the many Facebook comments acknowledging his selflessness.
“I said, Max, in the world we live in now, those little kindnesses are so appreciated. People appreciate what you did, and that’s the way to go,” she said. “We were shocked and overwhelmed how the community reacted to this. Max just said, ‘Mom I just left a few candies. I just want other kids to enjoy Halloween too.’”
Atannav wanted to spread the word about Max’s good deeds and informed PS/IS 49 principal Thomas Carty and local Councilman Robert Holden.
After Carty recognized Max for his generosity, Holden honored him with an NYC Council citation.
“People were sending us messages that they wanted to give him some gifts and everything. But, as we always say, good words will fill his heart more than anything,” Zysk said.
“I feel like for a 10-year-old to give up candy, it’s kind of a lot, I would say. Especially on Halloween,” she continued. “He was always a good boy. He’s very thoughtful, he loves people, he loves animals…It doesn’t matter if he knows someone or not, he’s there to help. That’s who he is.”
Zysk said that her son has always been sweet and happy, and that he wants to be part of nearly every community service initiative that he hears about.
“He was always amazing, and we were very blessed with him,” she said. “We enjoy every moment and minute and second with him. He’s a joy to be around.”
As a mother, Zysk is extremely proud of Max and the young man he is becoming.
“I always tell him, always be you, and you will see everything is going to be wonderful.”