Kutztown Elementary School 2nd grader Ajax David asks the community to join him in his efforts to donate toys and books to the Lehigh Valley Reilly Children's Hospital.
“I thought we should do a toy and book drive because I thought the kids might be sad because they can't play with their friends in the hospital, so that's why I wanted to give them toys and books to read and play with," said Ajax.
The 7 year old organized The Lehigh Valley Reilly Children's Hospital Toy + Book Drive, collecting donations at the organic café HIVE and Firefly Bookstore in Kutztown until Feb. 20.
"I like that it is providing books for kids,” said Ajax. “I like reading and wanted to help them build a library. The toys will also give them something to play with since they can't be with their friends."
In December, at his yearly checkup, his doctor heard a heart murmur and Ajax went to the Lehigh Valley Reilly Children's Hospital to get an echocardiogram to monitor and check his heart.
“Thankfully, Ajax's screening turned out to be a false alarm and his heart was in great shape,” said his mother, Robyn Jasko, owner of the HIVE and Homesweet Homegrown in Kutztown. “But visiting the Children's Hospital had a great impact on him.”
Every month as a family, they donate to a charity.
“This can vary in the amount. It is really something we started doing to give back on some level on a monthly basis, and teach Ajax about the impact each person can have, even if it's just a small amount,” said Robyn. “Sometimes, he donates the change he finds. Sometimes we donate much more.”
This past Thanksgiving, they sponsored Thanksgiving dinners for two families through CONCERN and in December they donated a bed through the Olivet Boys and Girls Club to provide a bed for a Berks County child in need.
“It's really about teaching gratitude, kindness and perspective, and we love picking a new charity each month,” said Robyn.
A lot of the charities they learned about from reading the Reading Eagle.
“We love reading about different ways to help within the community. I also love that we spend every morning reading the paper together which is a rarity in our screen-filled world,” she said.
In January, she asked Ajax who they should all donate to and Ajax said he wanted to donate toys and books for the kids at the hospital.
“I thought it was such a great idea. I wanted to open it up to the community and show Ajax that when you have an idea, you can make it happen, and help make real change in your community,” said Robyn. “I was also just so impressed that he came up with the idea.”
They started by making a flyer, which Ajax helped design, putting them around town, and posting it on Facebook. Then, when Firefly Bookstore in Kutztown shared it, Robyn thought they might be a great partner and asked them if they would have a collection box.
“They were so kind and immediately agreed,” said Robyn. “It was a great partnership, and I am so grateful to our bookstore! We are lucky to have them in our town, and they are so generous!”
"We're offering a discount of 25% off customer purchases of items intended for the book drive," said Firefly Bookstore co-owner Matthew Williams. "We are very pleased to be a part of this program, and are so impressed with Ajax's dedication. We have agreed to extend our participation so we can help gather more material! We hope all our customers consider participating."
“My collection goal is to get enough books and toys for all of the kids in the hospital," said Ajax. “I wanted to make sure the kids weren't lonely, and had something to play with and read.”
The book and toy drive so far has received about six crates of books and toys.
“It's been really amazing. We have enough books and toys to donate to more than 100 kids in the hospital,” said Robyn. “The community has been so generous!”
“I was surprised to see all of the toys and books,” said Ajax. “I was so happy that we received so many gifts. That means a lot of kids in the hospital will get activities, books and games.”
They have everything from coloring books, Legos and puzzles to books, toy cars and graphic novels for the older kids.
“We have received the most inspiring books, and several local authors have donated their books as well,” said Robyn. “It’s been very exciting to see the community get together and make this happen. We are so grateful!”
Drop off donations at the HIVE’s contactless drop off box every Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the HIVE, 236 Saucony Alley, Kutztown, through Feb. 20, and at Firefly Bookstore, 271 E. Main St., Kutztown, every day through Feb. 20. The books and toys will be donated to Lehigh Valley Reilly Children's Hospital.
“This pandemic has been a difficult time for so many people. It feels really good to give back and help make a difference,” said Robyn. “Each toy and book donated as part of Ajax's fund drive directly goes to a child at the hospital.”