Friday, May 16, 2008


St. Louis Park toy store will use web-based gift registry to help ease the stress of long-term medical treatment.

ST. LOUIS PARK, MN – May 16, 2008: Starting in early May, kiddywampus will offer a new concept for children’s birthday parties: Toy Connection. The program will use children’s birthday parties held at kiddywampus to collect toys and art supplies for children undergoing treatment at the University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital. kiddywampus will provide parents an alternative to the traditional model of birthday gifting with the option of giving back while celebrating.

Toy Connection will collect toys and art supplies for Children’s Cancer Research Fund (CCRF), which is dedicated to finding a cure for childhood cancer by providing funds to the University of Minnesota for research and training relating to the prevention, treatment and cure of childhood cancer. The nonprofit organization also funds Care Partners, a quality-of-life program for pediatric cancer patients and their families at the University of Minnesota Children's Hospital, Fairview. Teresa Turner, Care Partners Manager will distribute collected toys to children undergoing treatment at the Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT) Outpatient Clinic.

With the help of a parent, children who are invited to a Toy Connection birthday party at kiddywampus can view and purchase products from an online list pre-selected by Turner. During the traditional party “present time,” attendees will view in real life the collection of toys they selected for donation to the BMT.

Turner chooses products that allow for creative expression, like art supplies and games that encourage open-ended play.

“Many of our patients must come to the Outpatient Clinic two to three times a week and it is important that they have opportunities for normal growth, development and fun. We want to normalize the not-so-normal BMT process for children as much as possible,” said Turner.

John Halberg, CEO of Children’s Cancer Research Fund, emphasized the dual beneficiaries of the partnership. "We are delighted to partner with kiddywampus on the Toy Connection," said Hallberg.

"This innovative concept has two appealing benefits: It improves the lives of young patients facing the challenges of pediatric cancer, and it reinforces the importance of giving among children. It's truly a 'win-win' program."

In September 2007, kiddywampus owner Amy Saldanha announced her goal to give all post-tax profits from her store to charities benefiting children. As her almost two-year-old business–which offers toys, parties, art classes and summer camps–grew, Saldanha found her customers looking for more active ways to participate in giving back.

“Our customers have told me they want a way to introduce giving to their children. We created Toy Connection because kids get it. It is a tangible way for young children to give back.”

Switching up the traditional model of a child’s birthday party is not an easy thing to do, but Saldanha is confident her customers, and their children, will enjoy the unique offering. “Toy Connection is about taking all the energy that goes toward celebrating the birthday of a child and channeling it toward helping a child in need. It just makes sense,” said Saldanha.

Once her pilot Toy Connection is up and running, Saldanha plans to create future registries for other nonprofits in need of toy or art supply donations.

1 comment:

Rick Carlson said...

This sounds like a great program. Another way to do something meaningful for kids is to get them outside in nature. Parents here in Minnesota often hold their kids' birthday parties in parks or at farms with sheep, goats or even llamas.