Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The other families Downtown

The Downtown News has a story this week on a program to bring toys and books to children at the Huntington Hotel at 752 S. Main Street.

The little-known program, which has 43 outposts throughout the county, invites children to borrow a toy and return it a week later. If the child returns the toy in good condition, they can get a new toy. Marcia Blachman-Benitez, director of the department's toy loan and volunteer services sections, describes the program as a toy library.

If the child returns a toy five consecutive times, he or she is rewarded with a new toy they get to keep, she said.


At the Huntington, Crockett, who runs the program with the nonprofit Pasadena Altadena Community Youth Association, has tinkered slightly with the county's toy loan model by combining it with a fledgling reading program.

Children who participate earn points by reading and writing short essays about their book. Once they've amassed enough points, they become eligible to sign out a toy from the loan program, he said.

It turns out there are about 20 families living at the hotel, and that many of the hotels and shelters on Skid Row house children. It's heartbreaking to think of kids living under those conditions.

Ron Crockett, who runs the program at the Huntington, is looking for book donations, as well as volunteers to read to the children. The hotel's library only consists of 50 old and worn books.

A friend of mine works for a publisher and her employer is going to donate some books to the program. I'm starting a writing class in two weeks so I don't think I can swing volunteering right now, but I'm hoping I can do that next spring.

If you're interested in donating books and toys or your time to this program, contact Marcia Blachman-Benitez, Director of the Toy Loan program, at marciabenitez@dpss.lacounty.gov.

1 comment:

bgfa said...

I met Ron today at the DLANC meeting and he also is planning to start an art gallery in the Huntington, which hopefully will become a part of the Art Walk.