Washington Heights

Toy collection drive for Parkway Manor will brighten children's Christmas

A toy collection is underway to ensure that children living in the Parkway Manor apartments will have Christmas presents this year.

During a monthly community dinner on Nov. 29 at Parkway Manor, each family attending will receive a sheet that they will be asked to fill out listing the age and gender of their children. The information gathered will be used in the collection of age-appropriate toys, says Denise Rucker, a program coordinator with BC Pulse who oversees various programs at Parkway Manor.

In addition to the toys, each family who attends the dinner also will receive a basket containing items such as detergent, hand soap, hand towels, and potholders.

“This is a time of giving so we want to be able to give them something,” Rucker says.  “Last year we didn’t have an actual party, but we gave away laundry baskets that we filled with things like cleaning supplies, detergent, and paper towels.”

The first year the event was held, Rucker says the police department donated bicycles, toys were distributed, and there was a D.J. and dancing. Every year since the event began, it’s been done a differently.

No matter what is planned, she says, “It’s a good thing to celebrate the holidays.”

During a community dinner on Dec. 20, the children of residents who provided information for the toy distribution will be asked to come up and receive a gift.

The community dinners were started four months ago as a way for Parkway residents to enjoy a free meal prepared by a chef from New Level while getting to know their neighbors. Rucker says each month about 60 people have been participating in the dinners.

“It’s important,” Rucker says.  “First and foremost, we just want to get these residents together, so they can start fostering relationships.”

In addition, she says, those residents who receive food stamps are usually running low on food by the end of the month, so the dinners help them get through times when food is scarce.

At some point, Rucker says she hopes that Parkway residents will take ownership of the monthly dinner as well as some of the other programs offered.

“We really want them to create their own events and activities,” she says.  “We want them to be in charge now. It’s not what I think they need or what others think they need.  It’s what they want and need.

“it’s important that they come together as a community and make this a fun place to live.  A lot of them don’t have transportation to get places so why not just make things happen here.”

Rucker asks that anyone interested in donating new toys for the party contact her at deniserucker27@gmail.com.

Read more articles by Jane Simons.

Jane Simons is a freelance reporter and writer with more than 20 years of experience and also is the owner of In So Many Words based in Battle Creek. She is the Project Editor for On the Ground Battle Creek.
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