Donation of toys will make hospital’s emergency department less stressful for kids

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 8 July 2021 at 8:38 am

Provided photo: Staff from the Emergency Department at Medina Memorial Hospital pose with Christine Nenni (the costumed character) and Michelle Wiseman from Best of Tymes Party Rentals, who donated buckets full of toys for children at the emergency department.

MEDINA – Children who are brought to the Emergency Department of Medina Memorial Hospital will find the experience a little less frightening, thanks to the generosity of two local women.

Christine Nenni and Michelle Wiseman, co-owners of Best of Tymes Party Rentals in Albion, have donated numerous buckets of small toys and activities to the Emergency Department, so that children who are brought in will have something to entertain them during a stressful situation, said Heather Smith, director of the Orleans Community Health Foundation.

Nenni and Wiseman founded their business in spite of the pandemic, because they wanted to provide a safe, fun environment where families could get together and spend quality time.

“People couldn’t go out and have fun during Covid, so we decided to bring fun safely to their homes, where they could party with family and friends they knew were safe to be around,” Nenni said. “We had two nieces who turned 13 and their parties were shot down due to the pandemic. We have developed a way to bring safe and affordable fun to everyone.”

Nenni said their party rentals,  which include a bounce house, popcorn machine, nacho station, outdoor games, snow cone machine, and more, cost one-fourth of what similar businesses in the city charge.

This spring, the women decided they wanted to help children in the area, so they contacted the Department of Social Services, Medina Central School, which has a backpack program, and the Medina hospital, and they began donating buckets of small toys.

Smith and Angela Moriarty, Emergency Department manager, couldn’t be more appreciative of the donations.

“Our ER at Medina Memorial Hospital sees around 850 children under the age of 12 in a year, so these types of donations are wonderful to bring joy to kids during a difficult time,” Smith said.

Moriarty hopes Best of Tymes Party Rentals’ gesture will prompt the community to pitch in and donate similar items. In the past, staff of the ED have been purchasing items for children out of their own pockets.

“We typically buy dollar store or Oriental Trading Company-type items, like stuffed animals, books, puzzle games, activity books, toy cars and dolls,” Moriarty said. “Sometimes families don’t want their children to bring home things they’ve played with while there were here, because of fear of infection, so it gets thrown away.”

Any items may be dropped off at the hospital’s front reception desk.

Nenni and Wiseman have developed ways to entertain children, while maintaining Covid safety precautions. At Christmas, they set up an event at their home where Santa sat on a bench on one side of the area and the children were on the other side.

At Easter, the women went to Burger King, McDonalds and Case-Nic Cookies and got items donated from each, which they included in the buckets handed out to children. The Easter Bunny (wearing one of their party rental costumes) rode in the back of their pickup truck while they drove around, mostly in the rural areas, handing out goodies.

Nenni said the idea to help children evolved from the fact Wiseman is a single mom and knows how hard it is for some families to buy even the smallest treats for their children. The women plan to continue their “bucket program” in the future and intend to contact Medina Police and Fire Department and COVA to see how Best of Tymes Party Rentals can work with them to help children.