By C.N. Staff Writer
A few hundred kids will be happier this Christmas thanks to Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry. Just 3 days before Christmas Barry hosted a Toys for Tots giveaway for local children in the Ward 8 community. The event was held in conjunction with the Fort Stanton Civic Association and the Department of Parks and Recreation.
Parents and children filled the Fort Stanton Community Center where the giveaway was held and were able to walk isles full of toys and books to pick out for their children. The toy giveaway was on a first come, first serve basis. The event, which was held in the gymnasium of the school, was filled to capacity with toys for each appropriate age group, ranging from toddlers to teens. Sponsors of the event encouraged each parent to walk away with at least one book and toy for their child. Kids were also allowed to take photos with Santa Clause who was on hand to listen to children’s wishes for Christmas.
Fort Stanton Civic Association President Barbara Jones said she thought the event was successful. “It’s a good cause for families in need. Councilmember Barry asked me to help out on this event and I could not say no.”
Ms. Jones says her commitment to serving the community is deep. She drove to New York to pick up the toys for the giveaway. She said, “I knew many of the parents in need and was happy to be of service.” The families also showed their appreciation for the event. Many of the children created Christmas cards for Councilmember Barry to show their appreciation for the toy drive. They presented their cards to him before going to retrieve the wide selection of toys.
Councilmember Barry said he hosted this event after his successful Thanksgiving turkey giveaway. “People are hurting out here and if I had not done this then hundreds of young people wouldn’t have any toys for Christmas.” He said as rich as the District is, elected officials should be able to help out those in need during the holiday season.
Parent Isha Lee attended the event with her three children, however, she said she was not there to receive any gifts, but rather donate to the event. “I brought toys to give away to the community. This is such a great event and I wanted my children to see who the true meaning of giving back to the community.” Her daughters Ayisha and Ayanna said they were happy to not only attend the event, but also give away some of their toys to the event. Ayisha said, “I’m glad my mom brought me because I wanted to give to people in need.” She donated a few of her dolls to the event along with her sister Ayanna.
Active duty military members who wanted to give back to the community and the School Safety Division of the Metropolitan Police Department staffed the event. School Resource Officers N. Jones, David Wilkerson and S.N. Hinton said they were happy to represent the police department because it showed that they care not only about protecting District residents, but also providing a helping hand in a time of need.
Ms. Jones said that she has helped participate in events like this for over 20 years and each year she gets a great joy out of seeing the children’s faces. “It was very touching for me this year to look at the cards the kids made for Barry.”