Ossining Fifth-Grader’s Homemade Arcade Helps Others During Holidays

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For fifth-grader Max Lazarowitz, caring about and helping others is important – and so is having fun.

Since the summer of 2016, he has combined his interest in supporting people in need with his love of using recycled materials to create arcade games for people to enjoy. This year, he set up Max’s Arcade at Roosevelt School, inviting children and adults to play all the games they wanted in exchange for a $5 donation. He will use the proceeds to fulfill local families’ holiday wish lists.

“I feel really excited because this might be the most people who have every shown up,” said Max, who wore a multicolored bowtie, a black beanie and a T-shirt with his “Max’s Arcade” logo and his motto: Little Kids Dreaming Big on the front, and Max the Maker on the back.

“I’ve been working every night for the past week, three hours a day,” he said about making posters and signs, speaking to local businesses, making raffle tickets and game passes, and fixing and perfecting games, which include a pinball machine, a catapult, and the Stealer: a claw machine with prizes.

Max, who spells his name Lazerwitz for his creative endeavors, made all the games out of cardboard boxes, old game pieces, recycled containers, tape and other found objects. He was inspired by Caine Monroy, a Los Angeles boy who created games out of recycled cardboard in his father’s auto repair shop.

Last year, Max’s Arcade raised about $1,400. He used the proceeds to buy all the toys, clothing and books on 11 wish lists that Claremont School had received from families. Max said it is important to support local retailers.

Max held his first arcade in his driveway in September 2016. He donated the proceeds of more than $1,000 to the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Valhalla to buy games. He held two events at Ossining’s First Village Coffee – in November 2016 and 2017. He donated the money to the Ossining School District to buy new recess equipment for Claremont and Brookside schools.

Fifth-grader Violet Miser enjoyed herself at the arcade on November 22. “I like the game with the frogs,” she said, referring to one in which players flicked plastic toy frogs into recycled yogurt containers. “I also like the pinball game and the slingshot game and the air hockey thingy.”

“I think that it’s nice to support our town and his fundraisers, and I like all the creative games he made up,” she added.

This was the first year Max’s Arcade included a raffle and corporate sponsorship of individual games. Max and his friends used recycled No. 6 plastic food containers to make raffle tickets that looked like Shrinky Dinks. The winners received gift cards or certificates to local businesses.

“I’m really proud of Max,” said fifth-grader Dimitrios Siva, a friend who helped Roosevelt School Principal Michelle Grier greet visitors at the door the night of the arcade. “I’m just proud that he’s done so much for this community. It’s really sweet.”

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