Wednesday, March 20, 2019
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20181128 Snow to Sun Rainbow Rm HM 2616A look around the tiny room speaks volumes. There’s baby food and diapers, backpacks and school supplies, clothing and bathing necessities. Everything is neatly organized to grab in a moment’s notice. There are also toys, stuffed animals and comfort items.

Comfort is what’s needed most when walking into this room.

These items are here for when a child is taken from his or her home and to safety by Child Protective Services. This is the Rainbow Room and for many children, it is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Rainbow Room is an emergency resource center founded by First Lady Laura Bush that allows caseworkers to offer tangible help to families in need. Its walls are painted with bright designs; its shelves overflow with new toys and clothing - just like a retail boutique. All products are available for caseworkers to bridge the gap for children who come into protective care with nothing more than the clothing on their backs.

Snow to Sun Park is a huge supporter of the Rainbow Room, donating items year-round. But when Christmas comes, the park moves into high gear, collecting toys, delivering blankets and looking out for others in their community.

“The park is filling 102 stockings for those children,” said Jeanne Fears, of Davenport, Iowa who, along with her husband Gary, has been returning to the park for the past 12 years. “These stocking may be all they get for Christmas.”

Since the park residents are working with caseworkers, they never see the child who receives the stockings but “we trust that they get something that pleases them,” Jeanne said. “Whatever they get from the park might be all they get for Christmas.”

CPS will give a list of ages and gender to the park. They can’t give our any more information due to safety precautions. But those who donate will stuff those stockings until they are ready to burst.

“Some people will also buy gifts that are just way too big for the stocking so we make sure what the stocking and the gifts stay together.

“These children are oftentimes taken out of their homes in the middle of the night – maybe because of domestic abuse or drug problems – and they are brought to the rainbow room to try and give them a little comfort. They don’t know what’s happening and they’re just frightened,” Jeanne said. “They get fed and are given an outfit – because the only clothes they have is what they’re wearing. They’re given a toy and a blanket or quilt and will stay there until they are put in a foster home, usually within a day.”

According to Jeanne, Bubba and Frida Clark started the community partnership with the Rainbow Room years ago but have since moved away and the Fears were asked if they would take over.

Gary Fears was a junior high middle school teacher for “a couple dozen years,” as he likes to say. Jeanne remained in the business world. It’s a great 1-2 combination for this volunteer effort.

“We have never met any of the kids. There is no contact and can’t be any contact,” Jeanne said. “But I went to a meeting and just found out how generous so many of these foster people are – if a mother has nothing, she still might take in someone else’s children. If a mother goes to prison another mother will take in her children. There’s so much generosity.”
The Rainbow Room accepts donations and is always looking for volunteers.

In-Kind Donations

In-kind gifts are contributions of goods or services, other than cash donations. Please contact the McAllen Rainbow Room at (956) 682-1301 if you can provide something that is on the list. The Rainbow Room accepts goods such as:

• New clothing
• New shoes
• Baby formula
• Hygiene items
• Cleaning supplies
• Beds
• Car seats
• Nonperishable food
• Store gift cards
• Books

Volunteer Opportunities

There are many ways one can personally help with the Rainbow Room mission and the Community Partners. Some of these opportunities include:

• Shopping
• Restocking the Rainbow Room
• Promoting their fundraising activities
• Board membership
• Lead a fundraising drive

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