The Rainbow Connection kicks off annual toy drive

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published November 14, 2012

 The Rainbow Connection has 250 children on its 2012 Wish Board, which includes children it has helped, as well as children it plans to help.

The Rainbow Connection has 250 children on its 2012 Wish Board, which includes children it has helped, as well as children it plans to help.

Photo provided

ROCHESTER — The Rainbow Connection is giving families the chance to experience the magic of making holiday dreams come true for local children battling life-threatening illnesses with it’s annual toy drive this winter.

The Rainbow Connection will kick off it’s toy drive from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 19 at its home office, located at 621 W. University in Rochester. Open to the public, guests are invited to bring their unwrapped gifts and gift cards to place under the 2012 giving tree and enjoy festive refreshments, crafts, treats, holiday music and a visit from a live reindeer.

The toys collected will be used for the Wish Children and their families at The Rainbow Connection holiday party, as well as throughout the year.

“The toy drive allows us to provide gifts to these wonderful wish families all over the state of Michigan all year long. It’s just such a special treat for them. A lot of these families are struggling, they have medical issues, and giving them something as precious as holiday gifts or surprises throughout the year is what makes Rainbow Connection thrive. It’s what we do,” said Ingrid Todt, Rainbow Connection wish director.

The goal of the toy drive, which continues through Dec. 20, is to build The Rainbow Connection Toy Chest — which supplies small gifts to children with life-threatening illness year round.

“This year, we have depleted our supplies significantly, and we are hoping for a great rush of new, unwrapped toys and games and gifts of whatever kind people are willing to share with us,” said Rainbow Connection Executive Director Mary Grace McCarter. “It is a wonderful way to help our neighbor and learn the joy of giving to somebody who is suffering and being able to help.”

Toys can be dropped off at The Rainbow Connection any weekday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We really need toys for the kids who are a little bit older. The 10 and over group, so maybe rather than Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders, it’s more of the Apples-to-Apples and Catchphrase games that older kids can really enjoy. We also need a lot of the smaller items, like Sudoku and handheld travel games. When the kids are waiting for their chemo treatments, they can have these things to play with while they are waiting and really, that’s what they are doing every day,” McCarter said.

Founded in 1985 by L. Brooks Patterson, The Rainbow Connection is a nonprofit organization dedicated to granting wishes to Michigan children. In addition to granting wishes, it also provides support services, information and referral, special holiday get-togethers and picnics, and college scholarships.

From a special bedtime story by Mickey Mouse at Disney World, volcanoes in Hawaii, haunted castles in Europe and meeting the President of the United States, McCarter said the Rainbow Connection has never turned a wish away. 

“Right now we have about 250 kids on the board; that means 250 kids who have received a wish this year and kids who we are working on their wish,” she said.

To date, The Rainbow Connection has granted more than 2,500 wishes to children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.

The Rainbow Connection, which receives no federal funding, is also accepting monetary donations. More than eighty-eight cents of every dollar donated goes directly to granting wishes, according to McCarter.

“We are very happy to get monetary donations, too; that’s what helps us make dreams come true,” she said.

For more gift ideas, or more information about The Rainbow Connection, call (248) 601-9474 or visit www.rainbowconnec