October 12, 2015

Early Childhood Resource Center fundraiser brings toys to life

The Early Childhood Resource Center held its annual “The Big, Big, Really Big Toy Box” fundraising event in late September, with the Canton Cultural Center for the Arts turned into a giant toy box. More than 800 children and their families came out to see their favorite toys come to life and participate in fun family activities and interactive experiences.

The Suburbanite was there to cover the event. As seen in The Suburbanite:

Jackson students help ECRC pull off 'Really Big' event

Families lined up at the entrance of the Cultural Center for the Arts in downtown Canton to get into the annual fundraising event, The Big, Big, Really Big Toy Box.

The Early Childhood Resource Center (ECRC) hosted the fundraiser and proceeds from the event will go to supporting the many programs the organization offers to local families.

Children, parents, grandparents and caregivers had fun visiting with some of their favorite toys that came out of a giant toy box set up at the entrance. There were superheroes, Winnie the Pooh characters, Lego characters and many others. In addition to being amazed by the size of the toy box, children were thrilled to see their favorite characters come to life.

Students from the Jackson School of the Arts program at Jackson Local Schools brought many of the characters to life. They took time to take photos and high five children as they walked by. Scott Hasselman, executive director of ECRC, said the organization holds the event for a number of reasons.

“We hold the event to raise funds to support our programming offered to families at ECRC and to bring families together for a day of fun,” Hasselman said. “… (Also), we try to build awareness of all the good things ECRC does for families. In past years we held fundraisers geared toward adults. A few years ago we decided to host a fundraiser geared toward the kids and where everyone in the family can spend a fun afternoon together.”

The ECRC is local non-profit organization that provides support programs to prepare children to go to school and parenting education, as well as working with daycare centers and teachers in the school districts to do teacher training. One of the many programs is the Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids (SPARK).

SPARK aims to get children ages 3 and 4 ready to go to kindergarten. Children in the program get free books and supplies and parents learn about the vital resources and support programs available to them.

Hasselman said there were upwards of 75 volunteers helping at the event.

Students from Jackson High School and Malone University's Early Childhood program, members of the Junior League of Stark County and Nationwide Insurance and members of Girl Scout Troop No. 596 from GlenOak High School all came out to help.

Just a few of the many family-fun activities this year were pony rides, a giant fishing tank, toddler town, balloon animals, face painting, inflatables, crafts, pound puppies to pet and a popcorn and cotton candy stand. Sandy Turner, who works in development at ECRC, said the event draws around 800 people every year.

“We don't count kids (ages 3) and under so the attendance is higher than 800,” Turner said. “The event is for kids 1 through 8 years old. It's all about family engagement. We feel it strengthens the families when the parents are engaged with their kids. We have many activities that parents can do with their kids at home.”

The Early Childhood Resource Center is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System.

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From its Cleveland headquarters, the Sisters of Charity Health System provides oversight, leadership and strategic direction to more than 20 organizations responding to community needs in Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, and South Carolina.

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