Downtown Atlanta will be more bustling than Santa’s workshop on Dec. 2, as thousands of LGBT Atlantans turn out for the 10th annual Toy Party at AmericasMart #3.
For more than a decade, the Toy Party has allowed LGBT locals and an increasing number of heterosexuals to play Santa’s elves by donating holiday gifts for underprivileged children in Atlanta.
“It’s amazing how every year it gets bigger and bigger,” says Nick Gold, a member of the advisory board of For The Kid in All of Us, the volunteer non-profit that organizes Toy Party. “It’s amazing to see, and we expect maybe as many as 5,000 people will attend the Toy Party this year.”
Next weekend brings two opportunities to gather with LGBT friends, celebrate community and help young people.
The 7th annual Backpack in the Park hopes to take party-goers back to their childhoods to help a new generation of young people get a successful start in the new school year.
This year’s theme, “Summer Camp,” gives attendees the chance to relive such childhood camp classics like crafting and s’mores while collecting backpacks and school supplies for Georgia’s less fortunate kids.
A child’s delight for gifts is synonymous with the holiday season, and the cover for one of the biggest parties of the year is just one unwrapped toy.
After almost a decade, Toy Party has established itself as the largest event on Atlanta’s LGBT holiday calendar. Last year 4,000 attendees donated 6,000 toys. This year organizers expect attendance to surge by up to 1,000.
“This is our ninth year and it’s become an institution for the holiday season,” says Chris Bess, president of For the Kid in All of Us, the nonprofit that puts on Toy Party.
It would be tragic if a future brilliant writer failed to find her voice because she didn’t have a pencil in her first grade language arts class, or if a gifted artist abandoned drawing because he was too embarrassed to borrow crayons from his classmates.
“When you’re sitting in the classroom and you notice that the person next to you has the big three-ring binder with everything they need, and you’re using a binder that’s about to fall apart and you’re using a pencil that’s down to the nub, I think it has a big impact on a student’s self esteem and self confidence,” says Chris Bess, president of For the Kid in All of Us.
For the sixth summer, For the Kid is helping underprivileged children throughout metro Atlanta start the school year with the confidence that comes from, say, a Lady GaGa Trapper Keeper. On July 30, the non-profit hosts “Backpack in the Park,” which last year collected almost 1,500 backpacks filled with school supplies.