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Toy gift for little hearts

Eight-year-old Sumita Kumari eagerly waits for Wednesdays now so that she can visit the Sonari centre of Rotary Club of Jamshedpur West to play with teddy bears, toy cars and a doll’s house.

Sumita is one among the 14-odd children hailing from underprivileged families who flock to the centre every Wednesday to play with toys their parents cannot afford. Besides letting the children play with toys contributed by members, Rotarians and their spouses try to develop reading habits in them. They are also taught how to use waste materials to give shape to handicraft items.

Rotarian Alakananda Bakshi said the toy bank had received good response since its inception six months ago. Pictures were posted on social media to encourage people to contribute toys to the club, she added.

“There are about 15 children who wait for Wednesday to come to the centre and play with the toys that we collected from our members in schools and colleges. But, we need more,” said Bakshi.

Currently, the centre boasts over 100 toys including teddy bears, cars, bikes, buses, a doll’s house et al.

This is, however, not the lone social welfare initiative the outfit has embarked on.

Recently, the club has started a self-help group with four women of urban slums. The women have been trained in preparing papad, bari, mathri, pickles and other items so that they can become financially independent. The food items are sold to Rotarians and anybody interested in buying the handmade edibles.

Rotary Club of Jamshedpur West also runs a cloth bank, which collects old but wearable clothes and distributes them among the poor during festivals or other exigencies.

“We call it a ‘bank’ because we collect clothes on a regular basis and distribute them to anybody in need,” said Bakshi. The Rotary Club of Jamshedpur West also runs two nursery schools in urban slums of Sonari and two adult literacy classes.