The Children's Toy Fund, Inc. is a 501(c)3 charitable organization located in Canton, OH that brings the "bouncy, squishy, AWESOME fun" to children facing difficult situations. We fill a much-needed gap by supplying all things fun and comforting to agencies and 501(c)3 organizations across the region to help them bring smiles to children and teens facing chronic illness, terminal illness, or crisis situations.
We are governed by a five-member board of amazing community members and retain corporate counsel based out of Columbus, Ohio.
We were founded in the mid 1990s by a group of women who saw a need. They had children in and out of Akron Children's Hospital and, at the time, all that was available to distract the children was Pinky the Hand Puppet and coloring books that had pages mostly colored in. They set out to form the Children's Toy Fund to help provide more for our children that were facing difficult and scary times.
Kimberly Samuel's son, Colin Morey, was diagnosed with pleuropulmonary blastoma at the age of 2 1/2. He ultimately would pass away at the age of 5, but his experiences in the hospital drove Kim's step-sister, Cathi Bogavich, to create the organization to bring more fun and joy to children facing difficult situations.
The founders spent the early days door-to-door fundraising and placing a canister in a local mini mart. Their efforts would eventually grow into starting a state licensed bingo game in 1997. They developed a wonderful relationship with Akron Children's Hospital and helped to put the first Nintendo systems into their departments.
We have expanded beyond just the hospital setting to include foster care organizations. We have found immense need in both situations and in other supporting organizations. We continually refine what we do to help every organization better in the way that they need it. Our organizational heartbeat is for community, collaboration, and partnership - and we want to partner and help each and every organization in the way that is truly going to make a difference in the lives of the children and teenagers they service.
We started exploring service related opportunities in late 2018 to involve local youth in what we were already doing and have continued to grow those opportunities since. We operate with a small team so spending our time on creating tie blankets, bundles, and unique items is not something we can realistically do on a regular basis. By creating community relationships with youth groups, it has allowed us to go further than providing a simple toy to an amazing impactful bundle of items to children who truly need that boost. As a side script, we hope the community youth are able to take a wonderful experience of helping another kid in need with them into their own lives.
Our dream of linking our two arms of Foster Care and Hospitals was realized in 2023 with the pilot of the Be a Friend Program. We collaborated with our friends at the Hall of Fame Village's Build-A-Bear to create a day just for the kids. We invited foster families from Pathway Caring for Children to have the children Build a Friend for all of their own adventures to come and also Make a Friend to Be a Friend for a child or teen at Akron Children's Hospital.
As we begin 2024, we are looking at scaling and growing the Be a Friend Program. It is our belief that this event can impact a generation of foster children that have faced difficulties. This program can do so much more than provide just another toy to the bin. It shows this group of children that they are seen, they matter, and they can help.
We dream of collaborating with local businesses, organizations, and individuals to do something truly incredible and life changing for children.
Want to get involved? Contact us to start the conversation. We would love to see how we can work together to continue to scale and build this event.
Children's Toy Fund, Inc.
2401 Swiss Ave Sw Canton, OH 44706 US
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