Toys with an Impact
By Mik Hyldebrandt
The Atlanta Holiday season kicks off most spectacularly with the Toy Party on Dec 2. We caught up with Lynn Barfield, the President of For the Kid In All of Us, amid preparations for the big night to talk about the mission, the party, the impact, and the future of the Toy Party.
Tell us – in your own words – about the mission of For the Kid In All of Us?
Our mission is to bridge communities and to brighten the lives of Georgia’s children in need. Our beneficiary organizations range from Lost-n-Found Youth, Eastlake Foundation to AID Atlanta and Safe Path. They may have funds for their programs, but not to add to a child’s quality of life. We do that by offering our ability to garner resources like backpacks and toys in the community.
Many people probably don’t know this – tell us how the idea for the Toy Party came about?
For the Kid In All of Us was started in 2003 by City Councilman Alex Wan and a small group of concerned citizens. The Toy Party was born out of a need that the group saw in our community, and the wish to give back in a meaningful way. It’s an 18-member board of volunteers. People who are passionate about underserved and unprivileged children. The board has its roots in the LGBTQ community, but welcome all to volunteer and participate with us. We do this with no paid staff, a lot of heart, and a storage facility.
It is always impressive – and quite frankly very touching – to see the toys pile up at the party. Can you share some of the successes of the event?
In 2016 the community donated over a little over 4,000 toys, and our silent auction raised 40,000 dollars. Being held on a Saturday night, the atmosphere and vibe of the party is most certainly different. It’s full of revelry, terrific music, and the most handsome crowd at any holiday event in the city! Attendance has gotten better and better.
What can guests expect at this year’s event on Dec 2?
This year we have the Other Show led by Edie Cheezburger, the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus, Danceography and Dance Atlanta are joining us for a few numbers that will get everyone’s booty shaking. DJ Liz Ellis is spinning for the crowd this year and, well, that man in the red suit, Santa Claus, is going to make an appearance. Svedka is a presenting sponsor along with Peach ATL. Other sponsors include Coca-Cola, EPS, Epic Events, and All Scripts. The Atlanta Apparel Mart is our long-time, and much appreciated location and event spot.
Looking beyond the party – how do the donations help in the community?
Our impact is far-reaching. The toys we collect will go to children whose parent may not have the (mental, physical, financial) ability to provide for a child. Money may need to go to essentials like a mortgage, rent, bills, and food. We impact the family by providing toys and giving that household a feeling of betterment. So, it’s not only a material definition but a happiness definition too.
Can you share a story of impact?
Last year, our volunteer Dwight Minio and his team at All Scripts provided us with some gently used and refurbished laptops from their company. The program manager at Eastlake Foundation, Jennifer McCrary, told us about how a young lady, who got surprised with one of those laptops, experienced a significant impact from that gift. She always had to stay late to do her homework at the education center because her parents didn’t have the money for a laptop. Getting a laptop meant that she got a better study environment, and the pressure of completing her work during a time frame was lifted.
Looking ahead – what does the future have in store for For the Kid and the Toy Party?
The future holds expansion – non-profits of our type that serve as bridge resource organizations are becoming more and more relevant in these already tough financial and political times. We live in a state that sees so many youths in our metro and rural areas living in poverty. The organizations we work with are seeing an influx of needs, and we hope we can rise to help meet that. We need more funding and more support, and we will listen to our beneficiaries and grow with them. We can’t thank the organizations and businesses that already support us enough.
In 2018, Back Pack in the Park returns to Piedmont Park in July, and a community challenge will be incorporated into the Toy Party.
Volunteer with For the Kid In All of Us
If you or someone you know would like to get involved with For the Kid either as a board member or general volunteer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Toy Party & Silent Auction
December 2, 6:30 pm
Admission: Bring an unwrapped toy valued at $20 or more $10
VIP Admission: Please visit forthekid.org – VIP includes unlimited drinks, food, and elevated views of the event and dance floor in a unique environment.
Location: America’s Mart 3: 75 John Portman Blvd NW