Good Samaritans track down replacement rattle
VERMILLION TOWNSHIP – Megan Hess loves her Kiddicraft rattle.
For the 28-year-old woman, who is developmentally delayed due to a rare genetic condition, the toy is a great source of comfort and means the world to her.
But after 22 years of constant use, the rattle was deteriorating. The handle was melted, it was cracked, missing some pieces and even had some sharp edges. Her parents scoured thrift stores and the web for another one for the last 20 years.
Desperate to find a replacement for the toy that is no longer produced, Megan’s father Greg Hess posted a plea on Facebook in January for help tracking down another Kiddicraft rattle. He had no idea that a neighbor and a stranger would find one on the other side of the world.
“The love for Megan started pouring in,” said Megan’s mother, Tresa Hess. She said dozens of people searched for the toy.
Help from a neighbor
Toby McClure, the Hesses’ neighbor, soon took it upon himself to do some research. He found hilarypagetoys.com, a website dedicated to the history of Hilary Fisher Page and his “Kiddicraft ‘Sensible’ Toys” brand. Page founded Kiddicraft in England in 1932. The company made everything from dolls to the first interlocking building blocks and, eventually, plastic toys.
McClure contacted the creator of the website, Charles Saunter, who worked in the toy industry for 35 years. He lives in France.
While Saunter has a large collection of Kiddicraft toys, he stopped collecting them after Fisher-Price acquired the brand in 1989. Megan Hess’ toy is a 1992 model from Fisher-Price using the Kiddicraft brand.
On the other side of the world, the search begins
Intrigued, Saunter began the difficult search. The pictures he received of the “rattle” in its broken state were not a lot to go by. He reached out to contacts he knew were associated with Kiddicraft. They also had never seen the toy before.
But Saunter’s wife noticed the toy looked more like a spinning top. That was a breakthrough.
He found the spinning top toy on eBay in Germany but it had sold. Then he found it on the French auction site Leboncoin. He spent $36 to buy the toy and ship it to McClure. Saunter didn’t collect the $50 reward originally offered by Greg Hess on Facebook.
“It was a pleasure to help and make someone in need happy,” Saunter said. “Having spent a career developing toys for children, I understand the importance of play and ownership. I grew up with a disabled father and so disability was a part of life and I understand how important these seemingly small things can mean to people. I wanted to help.”
The new toy makes it home to Megan
Just under three weeks after Greg Hess posted on Facebook in January, the new toy was in Megan Hess’ hands and she was ecstatic.
“Megan has no idea that so many people were looking for her toy but she sure was thrilled to see this one,” Tresa Hess said. “For kids like Megan, things from the past are nostalgic to them and mean a lot more to them than to other people.”
McClure said it was an interesting chain of events that led to Megan Hess getting her new toy.
“It made me feel pretty good to give it to her,” he said. “It just feels good to be able to do something like this for somebody.”
Tresa Hess said her family got to hear the new rattle every waking hour for three days straight.
“We have been so blessed … somebody stepped up when they didn’t have to,” she said.
Saunter said he’s still looking for another back-up Kiddicraft rattle.
Staff writer Jordan Laird can be reached at 419-281-0581 ext. 240 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @JordanSLaird1.
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