City youths can exchange toys and video games that promote violence and aggression, such as toy guns and knives, for basketballs, footballs, puzzles, board games and non-violent computer games during the 20th annual Peace Toys for War Toys Exchange, to be held Friday, Dec. 21, at 6:30 p.m. at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum Annex. The exchange is sponsored and organized by the Carl H. Russell Sr. Community Center.
The exchange is for youth ages 3 – 14 who are accompanied by a parent. High school students can qualify for a computer drawing donated by Venable Tax Services. Youths will also have an opportunity to win bicycles and other special prizes that promote fitness, education, and peace.
Attendees must arrive no later than 6:45 p.m., at which time the doors will be closed. The exchange is expected to conclude about 8 p.m., at which time attendees will have an opportunity to ice skate until 9:30 p.m.
This is the first year the annual exchange is being held at the coliseum annex. Ben Piggott, the director of the Russell Community Center, started the exchange in 1993 while he was working at the William C. Sims Sr. Community Recreation Center.
In 2000, Piggott was honored by the National Crime Prevention Council for starting the program.
In an interview in 2000, Piggott said he was looking for an event to encourage children growing up in disadvantaged neighborhoods to pursue excellence and peaceful living. “I looked at the police and the gun buy-back program they had, and I decided to go after the kids, to get them started at a young age so they would realize that they can deal with problems peacefully.”
Anyone wishing to donate unwrapped toys for this event should call Piggott or a member of the Russell Center staff at 727-2580.
Map to the LJVM Coliseum Annex