Announcing the Wink Alliance with 2020 partner Marcfirst

Official Press Release

For Immediate Release

November 14, 2020




How a shop dog became the symbol for helping kids in our community


Bloomington, IL – Gingerbread House Toys is partnering with Marcfirst to be the first recipient of their new annual giving program, the Wink Alliance. Named after their famous shop dog Wink, each year the program selects one local non-profit to be the sole recipient of all proceeds from the sale of a limited-edition stuffed animal, modeled after Wink, and sporting a tiny t-shirt branded with the supported organization.


For years, Gingerbread House Toys coordinated The 12 Days of Giving, an annual campaign to support local non-profits during the holiday season. But they wanted to make a bigger impact, by focusing on one organization at a time, in a way that kept kids at the center.


Owner Kate Greene shared, “While it was a lot of fun to help raise awareness for so many great organizations, the amount of money we were able to donate was spread pretty thin. So, we thought: What if there’s an even better way to love our community in bigger, bolder ways? And we also have Wink! What if every time you saw Wink, you thought of giving… maybe he could become a symbol for helping the kids in our community!”


The Wink Alliance was born, with a custom Wink “stuffy” at the center of the giving campaign. This custom-designed creation is the handiwork of Stuffed Animal Pros, a member of the Budsies family of brands, based in south Florida. And each "Wink" plush toy is 8 inches tall, has a Gingerbread House Toys logo on his paw, and most importantly he wears a t-shirt with the Marcfirst logo on the front, displaying his support for his friends.


And the timing couldn’t be better, with the recent expansion of The Gregg Chadwick Marcfirst Pediatric Therapy Center, which supports eight different therapies specialized to help children reach their potential.


The Wink Alliance begins Saturday, November 14, 2020, with pre-orders through their online store at, for the “Wink” plush toy for $25 and 2 for $5 keychains that can double as dog collar tags. All items will be available for curbside pick-up in early December, in advance of the holiday giving season. Most importantly, all proceeds of all items will be donated to Marcfirst.



Local organizations that are interested in participating in the Wink Alliance in the future should fill out the contact form on their website.


About Gingerbread House Toys


Gingerbread House Toys has been sparking imaginations and delighting children since 1972. Over the years it has become the go-to destination for families, caregivers, and children searching for fun, interesting, high-quality educational toys in Central Illinois. The store’s founder, Tami Jarecki, believed in the power of play to stimulate children’s minds. The shop grew and evolved, moving from her home into an original Victorian gingerbread-style house on Hannah Street.


In 2012, the store changed hands and was purchased by three sisters from Bloomington who had been raised on toys from the original store. Kate, Nikki, and Beki Greene had always loved coming into this magical space as children and were excited for the opportunity to not only continue the traditions of before, but also to offer exciting and innovative products, services, and events. In 2017, the sisters moved into the Foundry shopping district on Washington Street, nestled near Bloomington Cycle and Fitness, Coffee Hound 3, and Green Top Grocery.


At the core of Gingerbread House Toys is the belief that when children play, they’re doing more than having fun, they’re learning and growing, which is why fun toys with an educational angle are abundantly available in their store. On their website, you can learn more about the purpose of play as a method to improve creative and cognitive abilities, gross and fine motor skills, emotional, language, and social skills, as well as improve spatial reasoning.


About Marcfirst


Marcfirst was established by families in 1955 to address the need for education for people with developmental disabilities and has continued to provide services for a lifetime of supports. In the last 60+ years, Marcfirst has been at the forefront of supporting individuals as they reach their full potential through integration into our Bloomington-Normal community. Marcfirst’s mission is to connect families and people with developmental disabilities to their community through a lifetime of meaningful supports. Marcfirst envisions a community that encourages and accepts all people. Marcfirst operates a $6 million annual budget supporting over 800 children and adults with developmental disabilities.


Marcfirst provides a number of programs to support individuals through all stages of life. SPICE Pediatric Therapy meets the needs of children with developmental disabilities or delays from birth to 14-years. The High School Transition Program creates a bridge between school life and future adult services. Marcfirst’s Supported Employment Program creates opportunities for successful community employment. The Residential and Day Programs offer a supportive environment, providing the skills needed to gain more independence and enhance quality of life. Marcfirst is proud to serve over 800 children and adults with developmental disabilities in McLean County to reach their potential.