The Rainbow Connection seeks small toy donations

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published October 7, 2015

ROCHESTER — A smile goes a long way, especially in the case of a child living with a life-threatening illness.

That’s where The Rainbow Connection comes in. The nonprofit organization based in Rochester is dedicated to granting wishes to Michigan children with life-threatening illnesses and providing support for their families.

When children are feeling blue about their illness, their treatments or anything else, really, The Rainbow Connection is on hand to brighten their day with a Happy Pack.

The small packages are decorated by volunteers and are filled with individually wrapped items aimed to bring a smile to a child’s face when it comes in the mail.

“We are just trying to make them happy for a few minutes,” said Mary Grace McCarter, executive director of The Rainbow Connection. “That’s really what it’s about. It’s just another one of the extra things that we do for the kids.”

The nonprofit’s Happy Pack stock is currently running low, according to McCarter, who is hoping the community will come together and donate some small items to the nonprofit for its Happy Packs.

“We have run low on Happy Pack supplies,” she said. “The nice thing about Happy Pack supplies is they are inexpensive. These are not big, huge gifts. They are small gifts that are almost always under $10.”

The nonprofit is looking for donations of small Lego sets, travel games, movies, water bottles, card games, journals and diaries, hair accessories, K’Nex, Sudoku books, boys’ small craft sets, fun socks and hats, and other small items. Donations can be dropped off 8 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays at The Rainbow Connection, 621 W. University St. in Rochester.

Wish Director Ingrid Todt said the nonprofit receives multiple calls a week from either the social worker or the parents of a wish child requesting a Happy Pack.

“Things are happening. They are having a bad day, they are getting a treatment that is kind of rough, or if they are just having a hard time dealing with their illness, that is when they call us and we get to create the Happy Pack, which is such a fun thing. Unfortunately, people don’t get great mail anymore, so to get these wonderful little packages put together based on what the wish kid likes (is a pick-me-up),” she said.

Todt said the nonprofit sends as many Happy Packs as each family requests.

“We always tell the families, as many Happy Packs as you require, please let us know, and we’ll send them and send them until that child gets through whatever is going on in their life. We do get a lot of calls. It’s quite amazing. It’s just the little things that certainly make a difference in the lives of these kiddos when they are going through so much,” she said.

For more information, call The Rainbow Connection at (248) 601-9474 or email itodt@rainbowconnection.org.