Ben's Toy Closet

Busy November!

So, I’m just slightly stressed (and blessed!) with all of the Ben Smiles initiatives going on this month. It’s turned into a month of service and giving to others, which I think is appropriate given Thanksgiving is coming up. Here is just a snapshot of what we are doing:

Ronald McDonald House dinner service – Wednesday November 15.

We were able to stay at Ronald McDonald House in Chicago during Ben’s last stay at Lurie Children’s Hospital, so I wanted to find a way we could support them this year. They have a Meals from the Heart program where they have volunteer groups come in a provide/prepare a dinner for those families staying there. We signed up for the only open day they had this year … Wednesday November 15. We’re preparing a picnic theme … ham/turkey burger bar, chicken, baked beans, potato salad, fruit, chips, desserts. This will be a fun one.

Two Adapt A Toy Events – November 18 and November 25

November 18 – Ben Smiles will be at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Winfield, participating in their annual Adapt a Toy event. There will be modifiers on hand adapting toys on site. Activation switches will also be available. There will event be a gift-wrapping station where families can even have their toy wrapped so it’s ready to go under the tree! It’s a great time for kids and families – a couple of years ago, we were at this event with Ben and it’s great to see the toys getting adapted. It’s such a treat for families and they get a new toy for their special child! Pre-registration is requested.

November 25 – Ben Smiles is partnering with Kmart, Easter Seals and School Health on this first ever adapting event at a Kmart. Easter Seals is inviting families and clients to this special event to receive a toy.

Thanksgiving Gift Bags for Pediatric ICU at CDH – we have received several great donations for this effort. Ben was a PICU patient more times than I care to count (9 total in 17 months) … that we wanted to give back and thought this would be a great time of year. Not all kids make it home in time for the holidays, so I thought a special gift bag full of activity books, playdoh, blocks, legos, gift cards for the parents, might be a nice distraction to help them pass the time. I’ll be dropping these off the week of Thanksgiving.


PlayItForward Kids event – I was contacted by the local Play It Forward Kids group offering to support Ben Smiles at their monthly event. They heard about our gift bag initiative and wanted to provide treat bags and homemade get well soon cards. There was a great turn out and I loved seeing all the young kids so involved and there to ‘do good’ and give back to their community. Thank You PlayITForward! You helped put a special personal touch on the PICU bags!


Whew! That’s a lot for one month … still a lot of planning and preparing for the next couple of weeks. Right now, I’m headed to Costco to shop for the RMH dinner! Wish us luck! There will be more events in the near future. Keep checking back and email me if you want to become involved! Parenting Team Parenting Contributor