COMMENTARY: Plush With a Purpose

Last week at Toy Fair, I was incredibly moved and encouraged to see so many toy companies giving from their compassionate hearts. When I was younger, I wanted to write about cancer research or world hunger. This week, Toy Fair reminded me that the toy business is an incredible outlet to make a huge difference, and these toy makers are using the toy industry to teach kids the importance of giving, love, and compassion. I’ve fallen in love with a handful of toy makers who are using their platform to make a real difference. Toys may seem trivial, but aren’t kids the ones in whom we delegate our future?

Bunnies By the Bay is a plush and baby company with a Red Thread collection, and 10 percent of sales go to orphanages in otherredthread countries. After conducting research on child development, Jeanne-Ming Hayes, President of Bunnies, realized that babies who aren’t swaddled and nurtured in the earliest phases have a hard time accepting love and support after adoption at a later age. She uses the proceeds from Red Thread sales to assign a nanny for every three children in orphanages, so that babies receive one-on-one attention and nurturing. Speaking with the partners at Bunnies By the Bay, it was evident that the reasons they’re in the toy industry are completely pure. They are a breath of fresh air, and I’m so thankful for people like them who are doing good things in the field in which they are planted. Bunnies by the Bay has partnered with Worldwide Orphans and Half the Sky organizations.

pocketpeopleRita Ross, creator of Pocket People, dreamed up her company to send kids the message of love, peace, and compassion. These pocket-sized dolls send the message that “Everyone Matters.” Rita created the first doll as she was battling cancer, in an effort to bring peace to fellow patients. The dolls are authentically homemade-looking, and are evidently made with love. They come in all sizes now, and each doll has a very unique look and style so that every girl can have a buddy that suits her.

Cure Pals is another organization that stopped me in my tracks at Toy Fair this year. This company is so sincere, and the passion for its cause is so apparent. The creator of Cure Pals lost a childhood friend to a very rare form of cancer. In visiting his friend, he spent many hours in a curepalschildren’s hospital and was moved when he saw children being so tough when everything seemed to be taken away from them. He wanted to provide them with some of the comforts of home, so he created these dolls, which are nothing like Barbie, Monster High figures, etc. These dolls are inspired by real-life heroes, including firefighters, police officers, military staff, and cancer patients. Eight styles are currently available and customizable in skin and hair color, and 16 new styles will roll out every year. Every doll comes with a code number, and when the child goes to Curepals.com, they are able to enter it and select a charity from the given list. A portion of the doll sale will be sent directly to that cause! The site also features hundreds of support groups divided by different diseases, age ranges, hobbies, and interests. Kids and parents can connect with others that are battling the same struggle. It’s like a productive version of Facebook, as kids and parents can create a profile. This company is incredible, and I encourage everyone to get behind them as they start in their journey to comfort kids.

These companies were joined by many more in working to bring kids a toy that makes a difference in their lives, as well as the lives of other children. I can’t stress enough the importance of teaching kids to act out of this sort of compassion, and to give to those in need.

For more commentary from Kara, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!