The Williamstown based nonprofit Bianca’s Kids will celebrate its 10th anniversary on Oct. 15 by granting wishes to a young boy in Connecticut who needs a bedroom makeover and a mom in desperate need of transportation.
The nonprofit started in August of 2010, when pedestrian Bianca Yodice was killed in an Edison car accident. She was a daycare teacher who had plans to pursue a career helping children. About six weeks after Yodice’s death, the nonprofit Bianca’s Kids was born.
“The grief that I experienced associated with her death was so incredibly overwhelming,” said Debbie Savigliano, Yodice’s aunt and president of Bianca’s Kids. “She really liked working with children with special needs, and it was at her funeral that I promised her that her dream to help kids was not going to die with her.”
Over its 10 years, Bianca’s Kids has granted more than 25,000 wishes for children who suffer medically or financially. The operation has been beneficial not only to South Jersey and the Philadelphia area but has granted wishes in the United Kingdom, Italy and Australia.
“Our reach is tremendous because we don’t have the heart to say no to kids in need,” Savigliano noted. “Because every child is different, every child’s wishes are different. For the past 10 years, we have been the jack of all trades making these wishes come true.”
In order to celebrate 10 years of wish granting, Savigliano decided to book a road trip to Connecticut to give a young boy with special needs a bedroom makeover, but COVID-19 caused its cancellation.
According to Savigliano, that won’t stop Bianca’s Kids from connecting with the boy’s family online to walk them through renovations and donate supplies for the project.
Another way the nonprofit kicked off the anniversary celebration was through a car giveaway. Bianca’s Kids found a Camden mom with six children, Jernica Quinones, whose 9-year-old daughter suffers from cerebral palsy and needs 24-hour care.
The car was delivered to Quinones a few weeks ago, so she can now transport her daughter to the hospital as well as get back and forth from her health-care job.
“Cars are quality-of-life changers,” Savigliano explained. “If you don’t have a car, you can’t do anything. Sometimes we will buy cars and pay for insurance for a year. Just trying to even the playing field for kids with adversity.”
The nonprofit is currently working on its annual operation to deliver Christmas gifts to local foster children.
“[Yodice] really had a special care for children that struggled with separation anxiety,” Savigliano said. “The reason I chose foster children was because I felt there was no better demographic of kids that suffered separation anxiety more than them.”
But COVID has made the work of Bianca’s Kids more difficult than ever. In the past, the nonprofit has received gift donations from local businesses and other organizations. This year, with businesses struggling to stay open, there have not been as many donated gifts for the Christmas effort.
“A lot of local businesses and day cares would take 30, 50, 100 kids and this year they aren’t taking as many,” Savigliano revealed. “We counted on them to buy gifts for our foster kids every year, and then we find out these wonderful giving business are no longer in business anymore and those that are are working at a much lower rate.”
Savigliano hopes the nonprofit will still get enough Christmas gifts for 1,000 foster children.
Bianca’s Kids has granted many wishes in different ways, including funds for senior trips, iPads for the dialysis unit at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia and meet-and-greets with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Money comes in one dollar at a time through fundraisers, sponsors and donors. But because of COVID, Savigliano expects $100,000 in lost funds due to the closings and struggles of businesses as well as cancellations of fundraisers.
“COVID-19 has hit us really hard,” she said. “Luckily, we won’t know the full extent of the damage until the beginning of the year, when we start getting donations from our corporate sponsors.”
To donate, visit https://biancaskids.org. There is also a section on the website to apply for wishes.