Mickey SOS - Soap and Shampoo for Children
article appeared in the
October 17, 2000, Issue #54 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)
MAY 2006 UPDATE -- A Message from Dotti (the Soap Lady):
Uncle! With my "organizers" going off to college and/or careers on the opposite coast, I've fallen behind! My home now stores so many soaps that if we have a heavy rainstorm, the streets of Boston will be awash with bubbles smelling not unlike our favorite vacation destination. While we struggle to catch up, I have a few requests:
- Please DO NOT SEND soaps and shampoos for the time being. However, if you have them in your home, ready to mail, please feel free to do so. (I understand about trying to free up space!)
- Any little goodies for the bags would still be greatly appreciated. The soaps I have on hand outnumber the gifts 4 to 1. Most needed are small bottles of bubbles, stress balls in bright cheerful colors, 4-packs of crayons, and small containers of Play-Doh. Any small Disney item would, of course, be gladly accepted!
- Please DO keep these children in your thoughts and prayers!
Thank you all for what you have done, and what you continue to do, to support this program!
Many of you already know about the Mickey SOS (Soap or Shampoo) for Children Project, spearheaded by Dotti Saroufim. Here's a little bit more about how the project started, what it's accomplished so far and where it's going:
It all started back in the fall of 1996, when the daughter of a good friend of Dotti's was diagnosed with leukemia. When Dotti visited Emily, then 9, in Children's Hospital in Boston, she took her a Mickey tote bag filled with some goodies, including some Mickey soaps and shampoos saved from the Walt Disney World resorts. Janet, Emily's mom, said that the toiletries were a big hit and told Dotti about the children she met at the hospital... children getting chemotherapy, alone in their rooms all day because their parents had to work or risk losing their jobs and the insurance. Children who didn't have 35 cents to make a phone call or to buy a bag of popcorn. Girls and boys far sicker than Emily, but without the support system that Emily was so fortunate to have.
It occurred to Dotti that folks on the rec.arts.disney.parks (RADP) newsgroup, on which she had been active, probably had a wealth of these WDW toiletries stashed away, too. She sent out a plea for people to send a bar of soap, a bottle of shampoo or a container of hand cream left over from their Disney World trips to be donated to the children in the oncology wards of the hospital. The response was overwhelming! Within weeks, not only had Dotti received the toiletries, but also Mickey pens and markers, stickers, Disney Little Golden Books, notepads, Pocahontas mugs and Disney watches. A Cast Member from a Disney Store in Tallahassee, Florida, sent more than 50 character pins that were used in the store for movie promotions. What was even more special for Emily was the outpouring of goodwill...the cards, the notes and the prayers from perfect strangers.
DO THE TOILETRIES GO?
Back at the start of the project, Janet, Emily and Dotti (along with a crew of helpers) put 2 or 3 toiletry items, a marker, and stickers or a book into a clear cellophane bag and tied it up with red and black ribbons to match the toiletries. The nurses on the oncology floor used them for parties or prizes, or simply as a pick-me-up for a child having a bad day. The kids seemed to love them!
Now they take the bags to many of Children's Hospital floors, and also to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute's Jimmy Fund where the children go for their outpatient chemotherapy treatments. The doctors keep the bags in their desks and use them as distractions during treatment.
in to the hospital is such a traumatic experience," Dotti explains,
"and bringing a bag of Disney up to the room may be a slight help.
We also make up "parent baskets" with all of the things that didn't end
up in the bags (mouthwash, non-WDW soaps, etc.) for parents who are staying
at the hospital with their children. Some of these visits are so unexpected
and the parents truly appreciate that bottle of mouthwash or extra toothbrush."
SOAPS FROM ALL OVER
Not all the
donations come from the rec.arts.disney.parks (RADP) newsgroup. According
to Dotti, she originally posted messages in the Disney Vacation Club area
of AOL and also in the newsletter of the school that her children attend.
She holds free Disney planning seminars in the Boston area and sometimes
receives soaps from her "students." Also, many recent donors
are ALL EARS® readers.
"People have been incredibly generous," Dotti says. "We've had donations from Cast Members at WDW -- for example, we received pins from 1900 Park Fair at the Grand Floridian, loads of Disney stickers from the Disney Vacation Club representatives, character cups from various WDW restaurants, and more than 50 books from Epcot. To date (February 2006), we've distributed more than 16,000 "goodie bags."
HOW YOU CAN HELP
"If you can donate even one bar of soap or one bottle of shampoo, it would be appreciated! If 50 people donated only one bar of soap each", Dotti says she could put together 25 additional gift bags for the children. Since she tries to make the bags as equal as possible in content, she can use all of the Mickey toiletries (soap, shampoo, body lotion, shower caps, etc.), but has also made up "teenage girl bags" with the beautiful green and pink toiletries from the Grand Floridian Resort.
Dotti will also accept more than just Walt Disney World items. If you just had a birthday party for a child and have leftover goodies, they'd be happy to take those off your hands! They can use small notebooks and colorful pens or pencils, festive plastic cups (especially with covers and straws), blow up plastic balls, or anything else that would help a child pass the many long days in the hospital room. They have also found that the children really like things that can be hung, like ornaments, key chains, or small beanbag toys. They hang them from the IV poles as decoration. Small containers of Play-Doh are always a hit (and great for squeezing when the children are having blood drawn!), as are bottles of bubbles. Disney items keep the bags looking more "themed" but anything would be appreciated. Mickey stickers, Disney markers, crayons and pencils, small size Disney books, character pins and buttons....any and all of these can be added to the bags and make a wonderful treat for the kids!
the project can't accept candy or other food items, due to the children's
dietary restrictions. Also, balloons are a choking hazard and won't be
accepted either, nor will any type of used toys because of the lowered
immune system of most of these children and the chance of infection.
Is there anything else you can do to support these efforts? Want to do more than just contribute soap?
Dotti doesn't actively solicit monetary contributions, but says she does occasionally receive checks. "For the past few years, through the generous checks of one donor, we've been able to buy plush Disney Christmas stockings, fill them with toiletries and goodies, and the nurses have hung them on the children's doors on Christmas Eve," Dotti says. In addition, Judy Shaw, from the rec.arts.disney.parks newsgroup, has sent all the profits she's earned from making pins of the newsgroup logo to the Mickey SOS for Children project. These funds allowed Dotti to purchase additional items for the gift bags. She visits the Disney Store weekly and usually buys up anything in stock that's under $1.50 per item.
to receive three to seven donations of toiletries per week. People from
around the world continue to respond, including a 17 year old girl from
Germany who read about the soaps on the All Ears Net® site. "One
thing we would love and can't find any longer are those large metal character
pins that used to be handed out at the Disney resorts or sold in the Disney
Store," Dotti notes. "They measure approximately three inches
across and, when attached to the outside of the bags, look wonderful.
If anyone sees these for sale anywhere, I'd appreciate a heads up!"
How is the little girl who was the inspiration for the project? Emily, who is now 18, is doing very well. She is in remission from the leukemia and recently came through heart surgery with flying colors. She plays school sports, has a very active social life, and is just a total pleasure to know! She is still the motivating force behind this whole project and her energy and dedication are inspiring.
NOTE FROM DEB:
had the honor of being in Boston for a "bagging party" (along
with All Ears staff Mary and the Czar and Czarina). I got to meet Emily
and over 20 other special folks who gave up their Saturday to bag Disney
soaps and shampoos for the kids! It was an incredible day when adults
and kids of all ages (10-74) came together in a show of kindness, compassion
and caring. I was deeply touched by the youngest volunteers who took extreme
care and pride in creating Mickey packages! Over 400 bags were filled
that day - and while tired, everyone was disappointed when the goodies
ran out and we had to stop. If you have a bar or two of Mickey soap to
send Dotti, please do so! This is a wonderful wonderful project! Your
support is VERY much appreciated! (October 2001)
A SPECIAL THANK YOU FROM DOTTI!
"I can't thank everyone enough for helping with this project," Dotti says. "I only wish that they could see the expressions on the children's faces when they see these beautiful bags. I truly believe that, along with every bar of soap and bottle of shampoo, comes a thought or a prayer for those children and that those thoughts and prayers are working some kind of magic, a special kind of Disney magic. Thank you all so very much!"
Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.