Stephanie Frazier Grimm has always been a fan of parties. Frazier Grimm would eventually become a professional party planner; she currently owns Couture Parties, a wedding, event planning and design company based out of Newport.
As a child, her parents threw her a Feb. 28 birthday party every year. Because her grandparents weren’t able to attend, her parents threw her a “half birthday” party over the summer when they could be there.
In 2010, Frazier Grimm would take her love for parties and share that with children who were in the hospital for their birthdays.
It all started when a friend had a child 8 weeks premature who was staying in a hospital neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). On one visit to see her friend, Frazier Grimm learned there was a baby, who had spent his entire life in the NICU, was turning one year old. Frazier Grimm was astounded to learn that although the hospital would have a small gift for the child, there would be no celebration.
She began calling other hospitals only to find that was the case almost across the board.
“I thought that was just crazy and I was going to change it,” Frazier Grimm said. “I think everyone should be celebrated on their birthday, whether they are at home or in the hospital.”
In January of 2014 she officially launched the Confetti Foundation, a non-profit that donates hand packaged, themed “birthday boxes” to children’s hospitals across the country filled with party supplies such as plates, cups, banners, crafts and toys.
Now nearly 2 years later, The Confetti Foundation is working with 102 hospitals in 36 states. It has delivered more than 950 birthday boxes. Each box costs around $22 to make and ship.
Eventually Frazier Grimm hopes to work with every children’s hospital in the country. In Rhode Island, Frazier Grimm works with Hasbro Children’s Hospital, which has received 20 boxes alone. Because Frazier Grimm is based in Rhode Island she’s also worked closely with the hospital on monthly group parties as well.
Every hospital associated with The Confetti Foundation has a “birthday fairy” or a coordinating volunteer who hand delivers the birthday boxes, and coordinates with local organizations to raise awareness for the charity.
“Our volunteers are so dedicated,” Frazier Grimm said. “We want to build a community of involvement. So there is a network of committed people who want to see these kids have a good birthday.”
There are no restrictions in terms of who can receive a birthday box, whether it’s a child on an overnight stay for a broken leg, or a child who has been in the hospital long term for cancer treatment
Frazier Grimm said the birthday boxes do just as much if not more for the parents of children in the hospital. Often they don’t want to leave to purchase supplies, but also feel guilty for not providing a celebration, especially for those who worry this may be the last birthday. The Confetti Foundation eases those worries.
The foundation has received responses from parents whose children have died, thanking Frazier Grimm and her organization.
“They are just so appreciative. Our birthday boxes helped to create happier memories for the family,” Frazier Grimm said.
“Especially in a hospital, where families often get bad news we can provide a little normalcy. I’m just so happy I can play a small part in doing that for them.”
Karen Swartz, Hasbro Children’s Hospital child life specialist, said The Confetti Foundation provides a wonderful resource in helping brighten a child’s big day.
“Our role in child life is to make the hospital experience as normal as possible for a child and that means a birthday celebration should feel like a true celebration. The birthday boxes help do just that,” said Swartz.
Frazier Grimm has received national attention for The Confetti Foundation. She was featured on The Today Show and the story has been picked up by the Huffington Post, Destination I do Magazine, Carousel Magazine and Celebrate Magazine.
She has also garnered some local attention, too.
Hoxsie Elementary School in Warwick just finished a fundraiser for The Confetti Foundation, which collected more than 110 packages of napkins and plates, 16 scissors, 55 packages of cups, 11 packages of silverware, 113 sheets of stickers, 100 “fun things” such as party hats and banners and 46 decoration items.
Courtney Cambio, a student teacher in one of Hoxsie’s 1st grade classrooms, started the fundraiser. Studying for her master’s in education, Cambio had to have project in which she brought the students and community together.
Nearly everyone in the school donated to the program.
Cambio said not only is The Confetti Foundation a worthy cause, but it is something elementary students can relate to.
“The kids they’re helping are around the same age as them,” Cambio said. “They can almost imagine for themselves what it would be like to not have their birthday celebrated. It’s just one more way to help the students develop compassion.”
Principal Gary McCoombs said that the fundraiser spread like “wildfire” with parents, students and teachers alike donating.
“Sometimes the younger kids don’t know anything outside their own reality. This fundraiser really opened their eyes; they will grow up more giving and generous having known about this.”
Tracy Mollock, the first grade teacher overseeing Cambio, said the students learned that with “a kind heart you can change the world”, which is exactly what Frazier Grimm has been able to do for children nationwide with The Confetti Foundation.
Frazier Grimm said it’s “great” to be seen as a role model not only for her own children, but also for others as well.
She is beginning to see more fundraisers such as Hoxsie’s as the organization gains popularity. She hopes it will continue and more individuals will get involved in the foundation.
“This whole journey has been amazing,” Frazier Grimm said. “This is my passion project. I think everyone has one its just a matter of making it happen.”
For more information on The Confetti Foundation, or how to donate visit their website at www.confettifoundation.org. The foundation is run by volunteers and has no paid staff; donations go into providing the birthday boxes.