Many St. Louis family attractions have re-opened with limited capacity and enhanced safety protocols for visitors and staff. Many are hosting virtual and socially distanced events, which you'll find in our Things To Do calendar. Public health experts recommend that when you go out, follow public health guidelines: wear masks (required in St. Louis City and County), practice social distancing and wash your hands frequently.

Kids in Candy Land Treats Your Sweet Tooth and Heals Kids’ Hearts

There are few board games that cross generations and spur childhood memories like Candy Land.

As kids traveling its rainbow path, we fantasized of a world where we could get lost in the Gumdrop Mountains to eat our way free or swim in the ice cream clouds at Snowflake Lake (and as grownups, we still do).

At its 4th Annual Kids in Candy Land Breakfast on Saturday, July 25th, Annie’s Hope – The Bereavement Center for Kids invites you and your little ones to step inside a life-sized version of King Candy’s empire for a morning of sugar-fueled fun.

According to Brooke Hutson Gibson, relationship manager for Annie’s Hope, this year’s event promises to be bigger and better than ever before. Start your morning with a delicious breakfast before participating in a variety of games, decorating treats to enjoy at home, and bidding on silent auction items. You can even shop The Candy Bar for mouthwatering goodies for your kids and the kid in you.

“Kids in Candy Land is a magical experience for small children,” she said. “Their faces light up when they walk into the room and see the life-size game board and all of the fun stations (and sweet treats!). It’s an event you can truly feel good about since all the proceeds benefit local kids!”

Finding sweet relief through Annie’s Hope

Funds raised from the event will help heal the hearts of more than 3,000 St. Louis children. As a community-based nonprofit, Annie’s Hope provides comprehensive support services for children, teens and their families who are grieving the death of someone significant.

Thanks to the community’s help and generous grant support, the organization’s programs, including Family Support Groups, School Support Groups, Summer Camps, Teen Retreats, Family Social Events, and Horizons, its anticipatory grief program, are offered free of charge to families. By speaking with trained facilitators and their peers, kids find hope at one of the darkest times in their life.

For 15-year-old Ally Butler who lost her stepmother Kelly in 2014, Annie’s Hope has offered a hand to hold and a shoulder to cry on.

According to her mom, Jen Rooks, Ally was unsure what the “right way” was to grieve, and therefore, closed herself off from everyone and everything besides her dad and newborn baby brother. In turn, Ally’s parents were unsure how to help their daughter who was dealing with unbearable pain.

“When death happens, no one is prepared for it,” said Jen. “Usually parents are fumbling to figure out how to grieve and how to keep their heads above water, and then on top of that, having a child to help through this experience.”

Jen spoke with executive director Becky Byrne about her family’s situation and in one tear-filled phone call, she was overwhelmed with relief, knowing she found a place that could not help Ally thrive, but help guide her as she accompanied her daughter along this unexpected path. Five months after her stepmom’s death, Ally participated in Annie’s Hope’s Teen Retreat and came home with a sense of comfort her family had hoped for.

Explained Jen, “I felt like we had been dancing in a circle of grief, and so I made her go on the retreat even though they were supposed to be willing participants. She came back, and everything changed from that point on. I think it showed her that she was not alone; that there were other kids her age going through very similar pain. There’s no right way to grieve – she can do it however feels is right to her. She became more engaged with her family again and got excited about a new school year starting up.”

Inspired by her time at the retreat, Ally was ready to try Annie’s Hope’s Family Support Group sessions as well as participate in support groups through her school. The difference the organization has made in her life is remarkable, giving her the strength to share her feelings about her stepmom and life in general.

“Annie’s Hope let me open up about my grief and gave me a place to feel like I could say what I was thinking without feeling awkward,” Ally remarked. “They really helped me figure out how to deal with my grief and helped me to see that I deserved to feed sad at times, but that there was always something to look forward to.”

Make a difference with every step

Through Annie’s Hope’s Kids in Candy Land event, you can enjoy one sweet adventure while helping treat kids in need to free services provided by a worthwhile St. Louis organization.

Kids in Candy Land will be held at Westminster Christian Academy, 800 Maryville Centre Drive in Town and Country, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday, July 25, 2015. Tickets are $17.00 for adults, $22.00 for kids age two to 12, and free for kids under two. Admission includes breakfast, prizes and gifts to take home.

For more information or to purchase your tickets online, visit annieshope.org or call 314-965-5015.

Photo: Annie's Hope

 

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Metro East mom Nicole Plegge is the lifestyle and pop culture blogger for STL Parent. Besides working as a freelance writer & public relations specialist, and raising two daughters and a husband, Nicole's greatest achievements are finding her misplaced car keys each day and managing to leave the house in a stain-free shirt. Her biggest regret is never being accepted to the Eastland School for Girls. Follow Nicole on Twitter @STLWriterinIL 

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