Kali Grace, a St. Baldrick’s honoree, became an angel at just three years old. She bravely battled cancer until she passed away in May 2014. This holiday season, her family collected toys in her honor to deliver to Sanford Children’s Hospital in Bismarck.
“We wanted something to help us get through all the firsts, especially Christmas,” Kali Grace’s mom, Kristine Coffey, says. “So, we thought ‘What can we do?’ and we came up with this toy drive.”
Kristine named it the “Kali Grace & Minnie Mouse Toy Drive.”
Not only will it help Kali Grace’s family get through the first Christmas without her, but Kristine says Christmas was the only holiday Kali Grace wasn’t in the hospital. “Does Santa come to the hospital? Does he know the child is staying there?” Kristine says she wondered.
Kristine coordinated the toy collection by word of mouth. Employees at three Bismarck organizations – Kristine’s employer North Dakota Workforce Safety & Insurance, The Bone & Joint Center and Basin Electric Power Cooperative – participated.
Jen Holen, Basin Electric event planner and charitable giving coordinator, jumped on the chance for Basin Electric employees to get involved. “I keep in touch with all our St. Baldrick’s honoree families,” she says. “Given Basin Electric’s proactive nature of helping kids, the Kali Grace & Minnie Mouse Toy Drive was a perfect fit.”
Basin Electric included the toy drive as part of its annual holiday Sharing Tree program, and Basin Electric employees donated more than 30 toys. In total, Kristine said close to 200 toys and 10 gift cards have been collected by employees at the participating organizations.
Kristine says Kali enjoyed getting toys during her hospital stays and at doctor visits. “She would hug those toys and not let them out of her sight; she just loved them,” Kristine recalls.
Kristine, her husband, and three-year-old daughter Bailey plan to deliver the toys to patients at Kali’s oncologist’s office and the Sanford’s Children’s Hospital, as well as to families staying at the Ronald McDonald House.
Thanks to Kali Grace’s family, her spirit lives on this holiday season and it will add extra joy for many families during this time of year.