12-year-old A.J. Silvestri collects 27,000 Santa letters to benefit Make-A-Wish Foundation

A 12-year-old boy from Old Bridge is making sure sick children find some joy this holiday season.

A.J. Silvestri has Cystic Fibrosis and must deal with pills, feeding tubes and chronic pain daily but that didn't stop him from making good on his promise to help others.

The boy has teamed up with Macy's to collect letters to Santa. For every letter A.J. collects, Macy's will pay $2.

A.J. was able to collect 27,280 letters, which adds up to over $54,000 to be donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

A.J. started collecting the letters after getting his own wish from the foundation granted four years ago.

A.J.'s mother says that because of his illness he must take 43 pills a day, and can only use 61 percent of his lungs. He has had to undergo 13 surgeries but that doesn't stop him from helping others.

"Her really is a hero," says his mother Kerryann Silvestri. "He really is the most selfless kind person."

The Make-A-Wish foundation says that the money A.J. was able to collect will be put to good use.

"Our average wish cost is about $10,000 a wish so that'll help over five children and potentially more because costs do vary on the wish a child wants," says Emil Schonberg with the foundation.

A.J. collected many of those letters from his classmates in the Old Bridge school district. He says that he originally expected to collect 15,000 letters, but nearly doubled that number. He says he will continue the campaign next year.

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