The Joy in Childhood Foundation, an independent organization powered by Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins, is celebrating #GivingTuesday in a big way, announcing $2 million in grants to nonprofit groups that bring joy to children battling hunger or illness.

This week the Foundation surprised 150 nonprofit organizations across the country with the news that they will each be receiving grants to serve their local communities, from Boston and Philadelphia to Little Chute, Wisconsin; Thousand Oaks, California; and Topeka, Kansas. The Foundation awards grants through its regional chapters focusing on programs that bring joy to kids when they need it most. Grants will support organizations such as food pantries and children’s hospitals, including 20 backpack feeding programs, 12 camps for kids battling illness, more than 10 music, art and play therapy programs, and dozens of other organizations that create fun celebrations, such as birthday parties, for kids in need.

The Joy in Childhood Foundation’s mission is to help kids struggling with hunger or illness experience the joys of childhood. The $2 million in grants, given in honor of #GivingTuesday, support this mission and have a history of making a lasting impact on kids’ lives.

For a full list of the 2018 grant recipients, see here. Specific examples of select programs the grants will fund include:    

  • A Young Boy’s Passion for Joy: The Joy in Childhood Foundation will be donating $25,000 to Give Kids the World Village in honor of Ryan Hastings—a teenager who understands the need and power of joy more than most. Ryan, who was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at age 2, and his family were guests at GKTW Village several years ago in conjunction with a Wish Come True grant.

“It was an experience I will never forget,” says Ryan, now 17 and wheelchair-dependent. “I wanted to give back, and pay that experience forward, for other kids and their families.”

That commitment became an integral part of his senior school project. Ryan’s research to identify local companies who shared GKTW’s commitment to bringing happiness to critically ill children led him to Dunkin Brands’ Joy in Childhood Foundation.

  • No Ordinary Camp Experience: The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in New Haven, Connecticut was founded in 1988 by Paul Newman to give every child—no matter their illness—the chance to “raise a little hell.” The organization is receiving a $45,000 grant that will allow two cabins of seriously ill children to have a transformational week at Camp. Funds will underwrite the cost of medical care, supervision, meals, lodging, adaptive programs and everything else needed to make Camp a magical experience in the lives of campers.

Jimmy Canton, CEO of The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp stated, “Having the support of our community is essential, because it allows us to bring joyful and unforgettable camp experiences to children battling serious illness each year. We are grateful to the Joy in Childhood Foundation and their commitment to our mission to bring the magic of our many camp experiences to kids in need and their families.”

  • Filling up the Weekend: River Bend Food Reservoir in Davenport, Iowa, will receive a $10,000 grant to support the expansion of their Backpack Program which focuses on feeding children who would otherwise go hungry on weekends. Through this program, children receive a bag of nutritious, easy-to-prepare foods to sustain them during the weekend and breaks. More so, the program helps children avoid the stigma of hunger as the package of food discreetly fits into any backpack and is easily able to feed a child throughout breaks from schools.

“It’s hard to measure joy, but we know that we’re successful when we can work with organizations that fill a hungry belly, inspire creativity and play, embrace the power of nature and at the end of the day, put a smile on a child’s face,” says Karen Raskopf, co-chair, Joy in Childhood Foundation. “That’s why the Joy in Childhood Foundation is honored to have the opportunity to continue our mission of bringing joy to kids when they need it most by awarding grants to 150 amazing organizations—big and small—that support health, happiness and alleviate hunger. We hope our investment will help these kids and the organizations that support them have a holiday season that is bright and joyful.”

“Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins franchisees are independent business people who live and work in the communities we serve.  We see the work these amazing nonprofit organizations do in our towns and cities across America, and we are honored we can support them in their efforts to serve children who need it most,” says Alex Smigelski, co-chair of the Joy in Childhood Foundation and a Dunkin’ franchisee. 

Additionally, beginning today through December 24, guests who purchase a Dunkin’ gift card online will also have the opportunity to support kids battling hunger or illness when they make a donation to the Joy in Childhood Foundation through a donate button at checkout. All donations will support the Joy in Childhood Foundation’s efforts to bring joy to children and their families.

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