Max Rubenstein, 16, is a sophomore at The Galloway School in Buckhead, but meeting him you would never know he was that young. He’s well-spoken and holds himself with the air of someone much wiser than his years. He thinks of others first before himself, and has goals to work in social entrepreneurship after college.
He started young. In 2008 when Max was just eight, he started a volunteer program to donate school uniforms to children in Malawi, Africa. Now, he’s fueling his passion for video games to create his own charity, Game Givers, that focuses on bringing video games and consoles to hospital-bound children around Atlanta.
Max was one of 20 Georgia students selected by the non-profit Giving Point to create a charity and launched Game Givers in August 2015. As an avid lover of video games, Max wanted to do something with one of his favorite hobbies. He was inspired by his grandmother, who died of Ovarian Cancer and was also a fan of video games.
Max decided to help kids, because they were close to his age. He knew that long term hospitalization would make kids miss the new video games that were being released, so he aimed to bring kids the games that were on their wish list.
Once Max’s social action project launched, he immediately started working with volunteer representatives at Children’s Healthcare Scottish Rite by furnishing the gaming section in The Zone, a recreation area for patients at the hospital. From there, he found other ways to fundraise video games and money for Game Givers.
“I knew if I was in these kids’ situations, I would want someone to do the same for me,” says Max. “I may not be able to find the cure to these kid’s illnesses, but hopefully I can make it a little bit brighter.”
At his young age, Max is constantly networking to find additional organizations to partner with Game Givers. He has exceeded the average volunteer hours required to host a charity through Giving Point, and as of March 2016 has put in more than 230 hours; much of it after school hours and on weekends.
According to Max, Game Givers currently has a backlog of over 100 games to be donated, which is not a bad problem to have. Max visits many hospitals in the area to drop off games a few times a month, in addition to working after school hours and weekends. The charity is solely his work, with some help from his mom Ali.
“I’ve always been a business-minded person, but I wanted to use those skills to help others,” says Max. “I’m still surprised that every person I’ve talked to about getting involved in Game Givers has been so willing to help.”
Game Giver’s original fundraising goal was $2,000, and now the charity has raised more than $7,000. Currently the charity has partnerships with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and its various campuses, Grady Memorial Hospital, Children’s Miracle Network and Atlanta Ronald McDonald Houses.
“We have no plan to stop anytime soon,” says Rubenstein. “We are growing very fast and have launched a new partnership with Children’s Hospital of Georgia in Augusta. I hope to expand to other hospitals around the country throughout 2016.”
The best way for the public to support Game Givers is by donating games or consoles, as well as monetary donations, which can be made through GameGivers.org. Max hopes to work with more communities and schools this year to host a donation drive or gaming tournament to raise funds.
Max has won several awards, including Atlanta Intown’s “20 Under 20,” Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “20 Under 20,” and he is a member of 21st Century Leaders.
It’s easy to see Max is a go-getter. “I saw an opportunity and a need, and I acted on it.” He hopes that he will be an example to other high school students and that more will consider creating some sort of charity or social action project. “I think it really doesn’t put it into perspective until other high schoolers see someone their age making an impact.”
Founder and Creator: Max Rubenstein