Tonawanda News

December 5, 2013

KEPPELER: Toys, toys, toys

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Lost for ideas for this week’s column, I turned to my 5-year-old, and asked him, “Sam, what should I write about this week?”

He considered it a moment. I probably shouldn’t be surprised, considering what most small children’s thoughts revolve around this time of year, but the prompt response was brief: “Toys.”

OK, then.

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I had the privilege of being witness to the writing of letters to Santa by a number of Mullen Elementary School kindergartners Wednesday, wandering among them as they wrote brief missives informing Santa that they’d been good this year, and they really wanted — well, they want a lot of things I recognize, actually. And not even solely from the fact of having a kindergartner of my own, but from past little-girlhood of my own, and exposure to nearly 40 years of toys 

They want Legos (sold since 1949) and Play-Doh (since the 1950s) and Barbies (since 1959) and My Little Ponies (since 1983, which might come as a surprise to all the children and adults currently enamored of the plastic equines). They wanted books. They wanted the sorts of things that have existed since human beings first started imagining, like dolls and doll houses. Sure, maybe those dolls took the form of Ariel the Little Mermaid or Monster High now, but they’re still at their origin a type of toy children have been playing with for hundreds (thousands?) of years.

It was cool, in a way, to see how many familiar things were written in that childish handwriting. And it’s nice to know that in an age of technology, some things don’t change.

My most memorable Christmas-morning toy from childhood was the kitchen set I received when maybe 6. I can still see it in my mind’s eye, sitting there under the Christmas tree when I came down the stairs that morning. I’m sure we all have something similar, no matter what age we are.

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You may have already seen this video, but anyone who’s sick of the usual “pink-princessy-sparkly-fashion” model of toys for girls should do a search for “GoldieBlox” on YouTube. 

A recent video by the toy company showed three young girls (defiantly NOT clad in pink) and their Rube-Goldberg-esqe “Princess Machine” as a promo for the company’s engineering toys for girls, which involve children in stories in which they can build contraptions along with the eponymous Goldie and her “motley crew” of friends.

It’s still pink ... but it’s something different. That, I applaud.

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And speaking of toys ... it’s almost time for the annual Rockin’ With Santa event, and your donations are, as always, needed.

I put a few things in the barrel at the Tonawanda News this week, but it was sadly barren. It’s there for another week, however, and you can help. 

Organizer John White estimates that as many as 160 families will be helped by the campaign this year, and that can add up to a lot of toys for children who might not otherwise have a Christmas present. Every donation helps; even the smallest can be used as a stocking stuffer, and monetary donations help buy gifts for older children.

“We’re pretty sure the people who come to our event, it’s the only thing in town for them,” White said last week. “There are families in need; they don’t mean to be in need, but they are.”

You can donate toys at several locations in North Tonawanda: the Tonawanda News building, 435 River Road, or at Submasters, 105 Main St.; Chamber of Commerce of the Tonawandas, 15 Webster St.; Armstrong Pumps, 93 East Ave.; Crazy Jakes, 26 Webster St.; and North Tonawanda City Hall, 216 Payne Ave. in North Tonawanda. There are also plenty of locations in the City of Tonawanda: Tonawanda City Hall, 200 Niagara St.; Dollar General, 29 Niagara St.; Fast Teddy’s, 221 Main St.; Fire Headquarters, 44 William St.; Twin City Elks Lodge 860, 55 Main St. There’s also the Royal Restaurant, 1320 Sheridan Drive, Town of Tonawanda .

In addition, the annual Rockin’ With Santa musical event will take place starting at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Twin City Elks Lodge, with the entry fee a gift for a child from infancy through 16 years old. Widow Maker will perform from 7 to 9 p.m., followed by Silver Xtreme from 9 to 11 p.m.

Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at jill.keppeler@tonawanda-news.com. Follow her on Twitter @JillKeppeler.

Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at jill.keppeler@tonawanda-news.com. Follow her on Twitter @JillKeppeler.