For 20 years, rain or shine, we've been giving out small toys at Halloween at a home near Main St. and Ann St. By toys, we mean everything from colouring books to fossils to ancient coins to dancing robots. From science kits, to baking kits, to sports kits, to art kits. From stuffies, to musical instruments, to costumes, to mittens. From games, to learning resources, to crystal growing kits, to wind-up toys.
This has always been predominantly from our own pockets, and this grant is the first time we've asked for anything from anyone since the very beginning in 2001. This year we are strained by the success of our other commitments and by those looming in the coming months. We admittedly live far below the poverty line and just make things work.
The selection of items is key. We aim to address the wants and needs of every potential child who comes - typically eagerly running to us from blocks away - keeping in mind the breadth of their potential interests. The children will choose among hundreds of items, giving many of them the only agency they feel all year. That is, the choice is made by the kids not the parents (though admittedly, some parents helicopter a choice).
The purpose is sweeping. Kids get to have something they actually want and are interested in; adults get insight into their kid's changing interests ahead of Christmas; the inner city neighbourhood gets a complement to their annual celebratory parade. To give you an idea of what this means to kids, we had a kid who told us that the recorder we gave her was the first instrument she learned to play. So think of this as not a toy giveaway, but our investment in the development and future of children and this neighbourhood. We want other neighbourhoods to copy us.
David and Nadine or Rielly house the event, Krista attends the kids as they choose, and I stand on the corner with a plastic chainsaw dressed as Leatherface, slowing traffic and guiding kids to this and homes with candy in the neighbourhood.
Funded by Kingston, ON (October 2022)