Tossing Confetti for Kids

A Newport party planner helps children celebrate birthdays during hospital stays.

Event planner Stephanie Frazier Grimm understands the importance of a good party, especially if it’s a birthday. But in 2010, when her premature godson spent the first weeks of his life in a neonatal intensive care unit, Grimm learned just how little a birthday matters in the hospital.

A preemie in a nearby room, who spent a year in intensive care, was going home for good and Grimm was curious if he would have a birthday party. The answer wasn’t what this self-taught party planner wanted to hear: Hospital employees did the best they could with whatever they scrounged up, and parents who could peel themselves away would bring back a few decorations.

Thirty-seven-year-old Grimm remembers spending her thirteenth birthday in the hospital and felt this was no way to mark a child’s special day. “I remember saying, ‘Oh no! I’m going to change that. I’m going to get party supplies, get hospitals involved and change that!’ ” she says.

The inspiration for the Confetti Foundation was born and Grimm got to work. But she quickly learned that starting a nonprofit wasn’t as simple as “giving stuff away for free,” she says. It took three years of planning but in January, Grimm and her mother made the first trip to Hasbro Children’s Hospital with five party starter kits in tow.

Confetti Foundation volunteers — called birthday fairies and heroes — assemble the kits, valued at $22, during festive packing parties. Each kit, themed by age, includes pom pom decorations, coloring pages, crayons, stickers, a birthday banner, a handmade birthday card and party utensils for four people. Participating hospitals are stocked with five party starter kits at a time, which are delivered to birthday boys and girls by the child services staff. The foundation’s birthday fairies and heroes replenish the boxes as needed.

In individual cases, depending on the length of a child’s stay or what put them there, Grimm hopes to team up with the hospitals’ child services staff to produce extra special birthdays. Whether that means Grimm and her team will decorate the room, bring a gift or supply a birthday cake, she hopes to take the Confetti Foundation’s mission a bit further for kids in greater need. “When it’s a sad or difficult time, giving these families thirty minutes to celebrate — that’s what is so amazing,” Grimm says. “I’m glad that I can give back, that I’m showing my own children to give back and that I can get the community involved.”

The joy is spreading. In a few short months, the Confetti Foundation expanded to forty-six hospitals in twenty-eight states. Grimm and her team pack the party starter kits in her Newport studio and mail them far and wide, from Massachusetts and New Hampshire to Texas and California. Printing and shipping are most costly to the overall mission, but with a booming following and savvy fundraising techniques, Grimm says the foundation is on track to spread the love to as many kids as possible.

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