Local family creates candy bouquets for hospitalized children
Dawn and Robert Bolliger work on candy bouquets in their Ahwatukee Foothills home.

When Robert and Dawn Bolliger's daughter Christine had a friend hospitalized at Phoenix Children's Hospital awaiting a bone marrow transplant, they wanted to brighten his day. One afternoon, Dawn took a SpongeBob tin and began to arrange a variety of candy into what looked like a giant candy bouquet. Ever since the family visited the hospital to deliver their present to 12-year-old J.J., their outlook on life has never been the same. "As we were walking down the hall in the hospital you would have thought we had $1 million," Robert, a local candy broker, said. "Everyone was asking about the bouquet. And just to see the joy on his face when we showed up. We showed up to brighten his day and it ended up brightening ours." In November 2006 Robert and Dawn created the non-profit company CandyCare Bouquets. With a quick phone call or e-mail, parents of hospitalized children can request one of the Bolliger's hand-made bouquets to be delivered directly to their child's hospital room. "Within 24 to 48 hours we will show up to their hospital room with a bouquet," Robert said. "We usually tailor them to specific kids by themes, age or gender, and they are completely free." The Bollinger's spare bedroom now resembles a small candy shop, jam-packed with candy, toys, tins and ribbons. Each night after dinner Robert and Dawn put together a few bouquets. "It's therapeutic," Robert said as they went through their two-person assembly line. Robert said that because children with cancer cannot have flowers, and occasionally children have candy or sugar restrictions, they tailor each bouquet to the individual, sometimes limited to using only toys. "We use the most popular candy on the market, and have recently started adding toys for these reasons," Robert said. "We are evolving as we are still in our first year." All materials used for CandyCare Bouquets is donated, and Robert and Dawn prepare the bouquets for the pure joy they get out of seeing the recipient's reaction. "People say we should open a shop, but that's not what this is all about," Robert said. "We absolutely never sell them," Dawn added. "I probably wouldn't be interested in doing them if we sold them." For more information on CandyCare Bouquets, visit www.candycarebouquets.org. To request a bouquet, contact the Bolligers at info@candycarebouquets.org Corinne Frayer can be reached at (480) 898-7917 or cfrayer@aztrib.com.

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