Imagine that you could make a lasting impact on someone who so desperately needs some hope, just by volunteering your time and a smile. Would you do it? Would it sweeten the deal if you could wear a princess costume?
College students Kylee McGrane and Margaret McAndrew have made it their mission to do just that. These two remarkable young women are students in the Bronx, New York, as well as founders of the organization A Moment of Magic, which sends volunteers dressed as Disney Princesses to visit children with serious illnesses in area hospitals. They hug, sing, face paint, take walks, and more, making the goal simply to spread joy and spend time together; all without ever setting time constraints or cutting their visits short.
It all started when McGrane first saw the movie Frozen. Not only did she fall in love with the Ice Queen Elsa, but she realized that she bore a striking resemblance to the character, as well. When put together with her admiration for Taylor Swift’s philanthropy and her own ‘excellent glitter skills’, she knew she had to contact her friend Margaret with all of the ideas that were bubbling in her head. Together, they came up with the concept of A Moment of Magic; the rest is history.
Early last year, a GoFundMe campaign helped the duo to raise nearly $2,000 for costumes, makeup, wigs and other necessary materials, and in May of 2015 they made their first hospital visit. As their schedule filled up, the girls were able to recruit more princesses with hearts of gold from their college, and this past March, A Moment of Magic was granted nonprofit status.
The organization now has around 40 volunteers, with over half of them dressing up as princesses for hospital visits. They’ve visited 12 states nationwide, and don’t let distance get in the way of reaching out to children. They now have a system of setting up FaceTime and Skype visits, too! “We’ve never said no to a visit,” says volunteer Ashley Clayton. “We always try to make it work.” There is an extensive training program that comes along with joining up, as well.
“We cover everything from posing, dancing, singing, doing makeup, signing autographs, wig care, dress care, book reading, and voice inflection and mannerisms for characters. We also train our volunteers extensively in HIPAA laws and sanitary precautions,” McGrane tells Babble. “Our volunteers learn how to interact with children with varying developmental capabilities as well as making them aware of the different degrees of medical attention a child may require and ways to best support that need.”
As you could probably guess, not all visits are easy. In those cases that are particularly impactful, it’s important that team members take measures to intentionally care for one another. “We are a family,” McGrane says. “If we have an especially hard visit, we have a support system that they know is always there for them.”
It’s always such an encouragement to see people pursuing kindness in ways that are tangible and accessible to them, utilizing their own gifts and talents. The foundation has shared that they have their sights set on expansion: this time, utilizing college athletes. By the end of the year they are hoping to have an arsenal of college ball-players available to visit children in their local hospitals, and they already have upwards of 15 signed up.
Thank you, Moment of Magic princesses and volunteers, for making our world a more magical place, one visit at a time.
Rachel is a wife and mother living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She’s a fan of good coffee, wearer of gray t-shirts, and is constantly starting books she will never finish. Her family is her joy, and she loves to engage with other moms and dads on matters of parenting. Her blog posts have also been featured on the Today Show Parenting Blog and Scary Mommy.