What His Toy Store Means to the South Bronx

November 17, 2016

Seanette remembers last year picking out a Ninja Turtle action figure for Chum, the youngest, Barbie dolls for the three girls, all pre-teens, and a basketball for Papa, the oldest. The first year, four years ago, she says was even better—everyone was younger, after all. She got Password Diaries for the girls (“Ooh, that was cool,” she recalls), a football for Papa, and educational games for Chum, who was just a baby at the time.

Seanette has shopped at His Toy Store, Hope for New York’s annual Christmas outreach, every year since it came to the South Bronx in partnership with A House on Beekman. She not only shops for her little sister and her aunt’s four kids (ages 16, 12, 11, 11, and 5), all of whom live with her and her mom, but, as a staff member at A House on Beekman, she also volunteers at the South Bronx store each year.

“It means a lot to the families,” Seanette says. “There was one time my momma had a coworker who was living in the shelter, and she was like, ‘I don’t know how my kids are gonna get Christmas toys.’ So we gave them our tickets so they could go and get something. In times of need like that, His Toy Store comes through.”

Seanette is 25 years old and has worked at A House on Beekman’s After School Program since it started four years ago. Interestingly enough, she actually lives in a house on Beekman Avenue. She’s the type of person who can’t walk outside without running into parents or kids from the block that she knows, and that know her. And trust her.

She’s the type of person parents go to for advice regarding their kids, like one mom shopping at His Toy Store who came up to her and said, “Seanette, help me. You’re with him everyday, and I don’t know what to get him.” Her response? “Girl, your best bet…he’s into Ninja Turtles.”

She’s the type of person who can effortlessly walk throughout the neighborhood and find parents to hand out tickets (used to shop at His Toy Store) to, which, in turn, endears (and even connects) families to A House on Beekman—families who hadn’t heard of it or whose kids weren’t yet old enough to be part of After School, for example.

“Our parents love His Toy Store,” Seanette said. “A lot of our parents don’t have, but they also don’t want to ask. So it’s an easier way for them to get toys.”

And as someone who experiences His Toy Store as both a shopper and a staff member/volunteer, what makes it special to Seanette?

“Seeing the parents shop—to look around and see people just coming together, helping, wrapping the gifts. You literally don’t have to do anything but pick out a toy,” Seanette said. “And the kids are not even thinking about what toy their parent is going to pick out because they’re having fun with the other kids of all ages, different sizes. I think the togetherness is the best part of His Toy Store.”

Give by November 28 to help stock His Toy Stores with new toys at hfny.org/hts.