Unlike many young children, siblings Callia, Kiefer, Cadence and Kenley Smith, aren’t asking for new toys, books or games for their birthdays, not for themselves at least. Since three children have summer birthdays, their mother Kelly Smith decided to have a joint party at their home in Potowomut for the fifth year in a row, in which family and friends bring donations for Hasbro’s Child Life Services program instead of gifts. This year, 1½-year-old Kenley will also be included in the festivities to celebrate her half-birthday.
This idea began after the siblings received more toys than they could play with on their first joint party, and Cadence’s first birthday.
“We got a lot of stuff they didn’t need. Not that we didn’t appreciate it, but we didn’t need it,” said Smith.
This is when she first got the idea to have guests make donations. This is personal for the family because Cadence was born with cerebral palsy and other health complications and had to spend some time at Hasbro for surgery to insert a g tube in her belly. While in the recovery room after surgery, Smith was upset by the sound of screaming children and wanted to find a way to help.
“I had to leave, it was breaking my heart,” said Smith.
She also heard from a friend in California who had donated to Hasbro, which reinforced the idea to contribute there.
The connection runs even deeper for the family because they were also on the receiving end of generosity. One of Cadence’s health complications included being born with a knot in her umbilical cord that caused brain damage. The best option for her was experimental surgery in Duke, N.C., which was not covered by insurance.
“We received so much support, it’s extremely humbling. People from different parts of the country came together in support of my daughter,” said Smith.
The family had a few fundraisers, such as a yard sale and a car show. Cady’s cause spread through family members and friends, then farther through social media. The oldest daughter, Callia, turned 9 recently and is very excited for their birthday party this summer.
“I like to give the kids a lot of presents in the hospital because they’re sick,” said Callia.
She said that her mom lets each of the siblings pick out something small to keep before they drop off the rest at the hospital.
“Last year, someone from my family gave us a Justin Bieber doll and I really wanted it, but then I was happy I gave it to a little girl that’s sick that likes Justin Bieber,” she said.
Last year they donated about $300 in gift cards as well as several boxes of books, DVDs, CDs, coloring books, crayons, stuffed animals, video games and more!
This year the Smiths hope to donate even more and she invites any readers who are interested to contribute as well. Any donations can be dropped off at Beacon Communications on 1944 Warwick Ave.