Casey Belen
Casey Belen

Meet Casey Belen, who has dedicated his mitzvah project to giving back to children in pediatric care.

Casey Belen, 12, of Birmingham has been nominated as Volunteer of the Week for turning his mitzvah project for his upcoming bar mitzvah into a passion project.

The seventh-grader at Derby Middle School says he loves kids and wants to be a pediatric surgeon when he grows up. This inspired him to start a fundraiser to raise money to buy new toys for kids in the hospital.

“I feel bad for some of the kids that are so sick. So, I wanted to figure out a way I could help and make them happy,” Casey said. 

Casey started a GoFundMe with a goal to raise $3,000. So far, he has raised close to $2,000.

“My friends and family have been excited to help out and have even donated or dropped off toys for the fundraiser,” he said.

With some of the donations collected, Casey has been able to pick out toys for ages ranging from 1 to 14. He then makes a nice care package in color-coordinated bags that represent different ages, while adding a personal touch with stickers that say, “Hope this brightens your day, from Casey.”

Bags of toy donations Casey Belen put together.
Bags of toy donations Casey Belen put together.

Casey’s parents, Andrea and Jeff Belen, say they are proud of Casey and have supported him throughout the whole process. 

“He’s been taking the initiative to reach out to family and friends to ask for donations. He also has a lot of fun picking out the toys at Target and other places,” Jeff says. 

Jeff adds that hospitals typically see more toys and donations during the holiday seasons, but hospitals need help year-round. He encourages people to donate if they can.

Casey has already made a few donation drop-offs to hospitals throughout the Metro Detroit area, including Children’s Hospital in Detroit, Beaumont Hospitals and is looking to donate to Mott Children’s Hospital.

Casey dropping off toy donations at Children’s Hospital of Michigan.
Casey dropping off toy donations at Children’s Hospital of Michigan.

Even after his upcoming spring bar mitzvah, Casey says he would like to continue his mitzvah project if possible and is even thinking about extending it to senior citizens.  

To donate to Casey’s fundraiser, visit If you would like to nominate someone to be the next Volunteer of the Week, send a short paragraph telling us why to

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