Okay, everyone sing along with me…
“Lollipop, lollipop, oh, lolli, lolli, lolli, lollipop, lollipop, oh, lolli, lolli, lolli, lollipop!”
This impromptu musical interlude was brought to you in honor of National Lollipop Day, which is coming up on July 20, 2013.
I scoured the Internets looking for the history of National Lollipop Day, but didn’t find a thing. The National Confectioner’s Association (the industry trade group for sweets) says this is not uncommon; usually these holidays get started when an individual store or a candy maker run a promotion, and over the years it sticks (no pun intended). If you’re looking for excuses to eat all kinds of sweets, check out their calendar. You’ve got National Milk Chocolate Day a week later and National Toasted Marshmellow Day in a month (in the middle, not surprisingly, is National S’mores Day).
While candy makers all over are of course cashing in on National Lollipop Day (you can get a free lollipop at See’s Candy all day on 7/20), there’s one charity that you should really check out: The Lollipop Theater Network.
There have been a lot of great movies out this summer; in the past two weeks alone I’ve seen Despicable Me 2, Star Trek, The Great Gatsby, and Monsters University, Man of Steel, and Iron Man 3 are still on the list.
We take a lot for granted, and one of the things we take for granted is being able to just pop into a movie theater on a Friday night and enjoy a movie with popcorn and soda. But think about kids who have serious or terminal illnesses and are stuck in a hospital bed for weeks or months. Sadly, while the rest of us are enjoying brand new, first-run movies, they’re not. While it seems like a little thing, it’s just another thing that can make these kids feel isolated and separated from their friends and the world.
The Lollipop Theater Network is a non-profit group started in New York City in 2001. In the pediatric ward of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, a volunteer named Janis Fischer was able to hold a special movie night for the kids with a special screening copy of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The experience was immensely impactful; the kids at the screening were filled with joy and excitement and talked about it for days.
Janis, children’s book author Joshua Gaspero were able to get in touch with filmmaker Evelyn Iucolano, and the three of them founded this charity. Fast forward 12 years, and the charity has held special screenings for over 275 films for thousands of sick children across the country. It’s not just an empty phrase that laughter is the best medicine: by providing these kids with such joy and excitement, it can provide them and their families with a little brightness in an otherwise bleak time.
The program has expanded to include other programs, such as arts and crafts events and music programs that continue to brighten children’s lives. It has also attracted celebrities who attend screenings and help support the programs, such as the incomparable Anne Hathaway (also a board member), Julius the Sock Monkey, and the Amazing Spider Man.
How can you support this great charity? See those awesome lollipops at the top of this post? You can buy It’s Sugar, and proceeds will go to the Lollipop Theater Network. Or, there are other ways to get involved directly.