Matthew Fornari with his toy drive results [Jeff LaBonte photo]

For most fourth graders, welcome a foster brother or sister into his home would be enough a gift for another child. For Matthew Fornari, it inspired him to want to do more. For the third consecutive year, Matthew has organized a toy drive at Swanson Road Intermediate School to benefit other children in DCF programs.

“The ‘Toys for Tots’ inspired me” said Matthew.  “I told my mother I wanted to do a toy drive, and she helped me to do it.”

Matthew is the son of Deirdre and Andrew Fornari of Auburn. The family has a long history in Auburn, as explained by Matthew. “My grandfather was the second class at Mary D. [Stone], and I was the last class at Mary D.” Matthew noted excitedly during our visit.

Matthew also plays hockey and baseball. He says that someday he would like to start a car company .”I would like to build cars and sell them.  Like, sports cars.”

The Fornaris are currently fostering their fourth child. Matthew shared this information when asked if he had any siblings. “Right now,” he started, “I have a 2 year old sister. I play with her a lot.  She likes hide and seek.”  Prior, the Fornaris fostered three other children, including a set of twins, according to Matthew.

SWIS Principal, Dr. Susan Lopez is equally impressed with Matthew’s initiative and determination. In the first two years, Matthew collected over 200 toys.

“He came and asked if he could distribute a flyer. We got it approved by Dr. [Maryellen] Brunelle (Auburn School Superintendent), and it went home with all the students in the school. It’s just amazing what he has been able to do.”

SWIS Principal Dr. Susan Lopez and SWIS 4th grader Matthew Fornari [Jeff LaBonte photo]

Matthew said his mother helped him make the flyer, and also posted the toy drive on Facebook. From there, toys came in from all over, though primarily from teachers, a staff and classmates at SWIS. There was no official count of toys at the time of our visit, but the pile was impressive. The toys will be donated to the DCF office in Worcester.

As heartwarming as the story already is, it does not sound like Matthew is done.

“I hope this leads to me growing up doing more things like this” said Matthew. “I’d like it to become a charity for kids or families who don’t have a lot.”