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Family hosting ‘toyraiser’ for special home

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Sisters Katie Galusha and Jennifer Marr have a special place in their hearts for the Ronald McDonald House in Winnipeg.

As such, they are hosting a “toyraiser” to give back to their “home away from home.”

“A ‘toyraiser’ is just like a fundraiser except instead of money, Ronald McDonald House-Winnipeg will receive free toys,” Marr explained.

She has stayed at Ronald McDonald House many times over the past eight years when her son, Benjamin, arrived 15 weeks early and weighed just one pound, four oz.

He spent the next several months in hospital in Winnipeg, and has returned often for appointments and check-ups.

Galusha, meanwhile, grew up using the Ronald McDonald House in Winnipeg for the first 16 years of her life.

“Growing up and spending as much time as I did there, it was really my home away from home,” she remarked, adding the volunteers there are simply amazing.

“I wanted to donate to the house because going through something scary like being sick and being in the hospital, or having to go to doctors’ appointments or treatments, I got to go back to the house and just be a kid,” she explained.

“And that’s what I want for the kids today—to be able to go back and just be kids and to make them smile,” Galusha added.

“We decided to do this because they have made a huge impact on our family . . . so this is our way of saying thank you.”

Marr noted she only had to stay in the hospital with Benjamin for one Christmas, but she knows there many families that don’t get to go home over the holiday season at all.

“Sometimes the kids have to stay in the hospital or they are able to leave the hospital with a day pass, or they just can’t leave the city because they need to be close to the hospital, so they get to stay at Ronald McDonald House,” she said.

“So I’m hoping we can put some smiles on some children’s faces that are a little sad that they can’t be at home for Christmas,” she reasoned.

“Please help us make some special kids feel just a little extra special this Christmas.”

Marr added Benjamin, who will turn eight Nov. 10, is getting stronger and healthier every day.

“He just received a new stronger pair of glasses and we are looking into a higher quality set of hearing aid for him,” she noted.

“This will hopefully give Ben more clear information through his hearing and sight.”

Her son also is learning to use a cane to help him in walking, and he uses sign language ASL to help him communicate.

“Ben truly is a miracle but he also just wants to be a regular eight-year-old boy,” Marr said, noting he likes playing with all his friends and cousins and he loves the computer, trains, and trucks.

With all that her family has gone through, Marr feels blessed to call Ronald McDonald House her “home away from home.”

And she is hoping the community will help donate to the cause to bring toys to the Ronald McDonald House this holiday season.

Marr said there are three different ways people can support the initiative.

People can visit http://www.discoverytoys.com/publicstore/event/36773/AMCA/default.aspx or pick up a catalog and do some shopping.

“Your purchase will help to earn free toys for Ronald McDonald House-Winnipeg,” she explained.

Alternatively, people can purchase an item directly for the Ronald McDonald House-Winnipeg from the wish list or they can make a monetary donation.

“Please feel free and choose to purchase a toy from this wish list or to make a donation towards any of these items,” Marr urged.

She noted she, her husband, and two boys will be taking all the special gifts that have been donated to Winnipeg during the first week in December.

The “toyraiser” runs until Nov. 4.

“Thank you so much for taking the time to invest in a child’s smile,” Marr said.

For more information, contact Krista Anderson at 275-7938 or via e-mail at kbanders13@gmail.com

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