Gentilly Girl- a part of the 99%

December 18, 2007

Toys For Tots, and Mental Wanderings

Filed under: Aside,Memories — Tags: , — Morwen Madrigal @ 5:09 am

For over twenty years I was heavily involved in the Toys For Tots programs in S.F. and Indiana. Being “The Bookseller”, and having great kid’s sections, I’d always bring a range of books to cover the development years to these drives. This year I returned to the fold.

Saturday evening we took a friend out for his B-Day dinner (he’s had four at last count) and he was too tired to go with us to the bar or stay and watch a movie with us. Betts and I decided that we NEEDED to get OUT of the hovel, so we just made our way down to the Starlight so we could have some peaceful talking with friends and drinking time before the show started… yes, Drag shows which we normally don’t do because the music is so damned loud that your brain cells die.

We finally find a parking place, walk into the bar and realize we forgot it was Toys For Tots night. It started with a Magic show and then proceeded to… fuck me! A Drag show for the kiddies. (We LGBT folks are funny that way) It was one of the best, funniest things I’ve witnessed here in the City of Oddness. And since we, in our total involvment about getting out of the hovel and into our REAL HOME, totally forgot was going down that night. The acts were so good and hilarious we tipped the performers well and watched as they stuffed the money jar for more toys for the little ones. It was tres kewl… we got to help bring a smile to some little faces this Season.

Now we have invites for the Pub on Wednesday for their Toys For Tots gig, and we decided that we would bring some toys this time. This evening past saw us crawling into Walmart, beat from having to go check on wall tile for the baths only to hear that, “This line is discontinued”, other materials shit too, but we did buy the side lights for the Dining room.

An aside Gentle Readers: after spending twenty years in RETAIL HELL, I don’t go to stores that don’t sell food, catz stuffs or hardware during this time of year. I hate the shopping frenzy that goes on between T-Day and X-Mas, but… we were buying toys (and getting a small ham) for kids (or is that kidz, or spawn? *NOLA Blogger term*)

So we enter the Toy section (one year Betts ran a Toy section. In a different year I spent five weeks being Santa in a freakin’ sleigh… OUTSIDE in a Jersey winter), and I’m totally lost. Aisle after aisle of toys that are all about TV shit. Both of us wanted to get Gender-neutral toys (no guns or other weapons, thank you). What to get? And then it hit me: these toys are for kids who’s families don’t have spare money for dolly costumes or a construction man kit that requires the parents provide a bulldozer… accessories are expensive, as are the batteries to power the devices that make them speak or move. Most of the time this crap breaks. Soon the toy will lose it’s attraction.
So we agreed on getting things for the little ones, ya’s know: four and younger. We searched the aisles. I wanted to get a bag of blocks, and Betts wanted to find something else. She found a darling Pooh Bear and I found a good set of blocks. We took the toys, and the ham, to the checkout counter and got the Hell out of there.

Here’s my point in all of this: when it comes to tots, they are little, and all the modern gizmos mean little to these tykes. A bear that can be cuddled (without the use of batteries), or a set of building blocks that don’t require motors or power sources are the building blocks of imagination, creativity… learning and caring. These are the types of toys I remember as a child. (Later my folks gave me the Chemistry set they sat upon for years… I blew a hole out of my bedroom once. I used my money from mowing lawns to be able to buy more chemicals… )

BTW- my folks asked me what I wanted when I was eight, and I answered “nothing but Sir Hoyle’s book on Astronomy please” (they had given me a small telescope the year before). It was $40 back in the mid-Sixties (very expensive to our family), 400 pages, 2/3ds of which were physics I didn’t understand… I told them I wanted nothing else… no toys or a bike, nothing but that book. That was my gift that year. They had stirred the interests that helped lead me out of my family’s poverty and into a new world. I wound up becoming a Nuclear Engineer who went into History and Cultural Studies. I “owe” my life to those two crazy people who honored my desires. Their actions opened multiple universes for me.

Where I’m going with this is that: through programs such as these, we donors can help “prod” a child’s future. Creativity and caring when they are little, and informative and challenging as they get older. It is our gifts to them… and they should never be financially challenging to the families. These gifts should be for learning and challenging. To love and to learn.

These are the kind of gifts that create Humanity and inspire the older ones to aspire to something different. Isn’t that what this is all about?

And please, please, please help with these programs. The Future is in their hands.

Enjoy the Season of Lights, and Be Blessed!


  1. An excellent reminder about the importance of thoughtful gift-giving!

    I didn’t know you had spent (or “done”?) time in Indiana, either.

    Comment by oyster — December 18, 2007 @ 10:54 am

  2. I did “Hard” time in Indiana… Bloomington in order to open Borders Books, and after that took me to medical disability I moved to West Lafayette.

    There I worked at a small bookstore about 2 miles from Purdue U. Got to see Drew Brees for all those years, and yes… I got to go to the games and watch him. (take that Saints ticket holders! LOL)

    Comment by Morwen Madrigal — December 18, 2007 @ 12:47 pm

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