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Vets senior & cancer survivor organizes toy drive for Tomorrow Fund
NICOLE MENEZES (right)

In an effort to give back to the organization that supported her through treatment, Warwick Veterans Memorial High School senior Nicole Menezes has organized a toy drive to benefit The Tomorrow Fund as part of her senior project.

Starting this week, Menezes will be collecting new, unopened, unwrapped toys at donation sites at Vets High School and Shawn Michael Photography on Sandy Lane. All puzzles, books, board games or other toys collected will be given to The Tomorrow Fund for kids receiving treatment at the Tomorrow Fund Clinic at Hasbro Children Hospital, staying at the Ronald McDonald House or donated as raffle items at The Tomorrow Fund Stroll in Garden City on April 27.

Menezes does not have a goal for how many toys she would like to collect; she will be collecting until April 25 at both sites.

Menezes always wanted to incorporate a service project for The Tomorrow Fund into her senior project because she received help from the organization while receiving treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She was diagnosed at age 14 and has been in remission for two years.

The Tomorrow Fund not only provides treatment but financial and emotional support to families. Menezes remembers getting a lot of support and wanted to find a way to help kids going through what she did.

“[I decided on a toy drive] to help the children enjoy their experience a little,” said Mel.

Menezes’ mother Donna remembers how supportive The Tomorrow Fund was when her daughter was in the hospital for two weeks and Donna took that time out of work.

“They wanted to pay my mortgage for me. I told them they didn’t need to; it was all set. They said, ‘Bring one of your utility bills and we’ll pay for that.’ I told them they didn’t need to. There were people who needed it more than I did at the time,” said Donna.

She did end up accepting a gift card to Stop & Shop from the organization.

The Tomorrow Fund has a clinic on the second floor of Hasbro Children’s Hospital and houses families whose children are receiving treatment at the Ronald McDonald House. Also, they will help with financial needs or pay for food and parking of patients staying in Rhode Island for treatment.

“They do so much for families that people don’t even know about,” said Donna.

For her senior project, Menezes completed a report on Hodgkin’s lymphoma but decided to have the toy drive as a community service element. She has participated in The Tomorrow Fund Stroll every year and plans to continue to do so. Her mentor for her senior project has been Kathy Connelly, head of fundraising at The Tomorrow Fund.

“After all this, she said I could go and work with the staff for the walk,” said Menezes.

For now, she is focusing on collecting as many toys as possible for children in need of a little happiness during some difficult times.


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