- Posted October 29, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The Hajj: Have you been?
What does EID and Chuck E. Cheese have in common?
"A Toy for You A Toy for Your Neighbor™" became official in late September of this year (2012). http://khadijahgoestoschool.com/eid2012/ While 4 million Muslims were busy with the annual Hajj pilgrimage, I too was busy at home in Toronto, campaigning for a new idea of gift giving and goodwill. I only had 30 days to do it. Eid (al-Adha) was my deadline.
Watch Eid al-Adha footage from Toronto featuring A Toy for You A Toy for Your Neighbour™
Rewinding to that 1st weekend, 4 short weeks earlier, I woke up excited, as if I knew something was about to happen. It was odd. I never experienced such an urgent feeling before.
Minutes later, I was flipping through the weekend paper. As I turned the page, I saw an insert, it was an ad. It gripped me, the reaction was immediate. A warehouse full of toys with excitingly low prices. Not even a moment passed, I had my IDEA!
Last year at Eid prayers, I witnessed some noble people handing out little treats to children from a plastic bag. It was so authentic to see yet so sad at the same time. Why can't we do this properly? Why can't we make Eid BIG! Why can't we make Eid like Christmas? I wish we could give out "real gifts" to a LOT of children. I told myself, there had to be a better way...
One year later, this beautiful opportunity revealed itself. There was no planning, no logistical analysis and no money that moment I made up my mind. These feelings were secondary and didn't even matter. The Idea was more important, everything else would just have to fall into place.
A Toy for You A Toy for Your Neighbor™ is a very different concept. It's neither just giving to your neighbor nor is it just receiving a gift for yourself, it's actually both! Two gifts? Yes! Let's say you come to the mosque for Eid prayers, you get 2 gifts, not 1. You keep 1 and give 1 to your neighbor. It's the answer to "What's next?" and the answer to "What's next after what's next?".
The concept revolves around goodwill. Show goodwill to those that support an organization or welcoming place by acknowledging their contribution, give them a gift. Take it further by giving them another gift so they can share goodwill by giving the extra gift to their neighbor. This Idea is supported by both the Bible and Qur'an. The Bible says: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." The Qur'an says: "Love for your brother what you love for yourself."
The beauty of the Idea isn't just limited to toys, it can be any item for that matter. You can keep it generic and call it "A Gift for You A Gift for Your Neighbour" or something more specific, "A Samosa for You A Samosa for Your Neighbour." Gift giving knows no age.
This dual, 2 in 1 idea was welcomed by community leaders. They loved the simplicity the Idea offered. Anyone can do it. There was no need to be an "activist" or someone who does "Islamic work."
Finally, Eid could be memorable, starting in the mosque with a toy! What better way to touch a child's heart? This isn't about loot bags anymore. It's a real gift, the answer to "What's next." Eid is a special time of sharing and gift giving, so we can't forget our neighbors either, let's go one beyond, the "What's next after what's next?" part. The moral of gift giving, especially performed as a child, is unforgettable.
Establishing more programs of goodwill with the wider community is vital. It builds bridges for people to get to know each other and allows for exchanging not only gifts, but perspectives, something needed more often. Stereotypes and misinformation can easily be quelled.
The proof is in the kheer (like you didn't know that! It's a South Asian pudding :) ) This experience brought people from so many faith groups together and highlighted the value of collaboration. I really felt as if this was 1 community. When I approached FreshCo, the super market in my area, they instantly agreed to donate nearly 500 reusable cloth bags for the Eid toys. I was stunned. Toys R Us donated such incredible toys it brought me to tears. When I spoke to the manager of Chuck E. Cheese, he immediately donated special Chuck E. Cheese Goody Bags. Watch what he says, "The Muslim community has been a great supporter of Chuckie over the years and we really appreciate their business and we'd like to help them out as much as possible." http://youtu.be/-4RmUa9Uj20
In the midst of the campaign, I met an amazing gentleman who had his own toy warehouse. After explaining the campaign, he promised he would give me "a deal I could never forget," and today, I tip my hat to him for making good on his promise. He made my money stretch so far I felt guilty. He told me not to worry, this was a worthy cause. I honestly sit here and shake my head, this is very emotional.
It now was my final day of campaigning and I was very concerned. I only had half the funds I needed to collect, and that being a revised target amount. I was going to make it work no matter how much I had, but I wanted to buy better quality toys and more of them. I was positive. I knew it could happen, there was pressure, but I had to push it. Eid was in 2 days. I only had the following day to go shopping. I was working against time, indeed I was at its mercy. Then something almost miraculous happened. Four different parties came through. I doubled my money in a single day! It's seriously unbelievable. Each donation meant the world to me. To see the smiles on their faces...I really have no words left to describe such moments. The largest cash sponsorship came from a local optical shop, owned by a Sikh woman. When she handed me that check, it took my breath away. What I had campaigned for all month, she almost matched by half in an instant. I tried to return it immediately but she assured me, "I have no reason to take the money back. This is for something good."
I'm still blown away by all the sponsorship and donations. I don't even look at it from a "corporate" angle, they could have easily refused me, after all, it's not like they all knew me or I had done this before. This was just a pilot idea. It was even unclear as to how it would be completely carried out. This was a magnificent campaign of goodwill all around.
There were a total of 5 media stories from as far away as Uganda, to Washington D.C. and here at home in Toronto. It was just an incredible and fortunate experience to share the campaign with so many people. One of the guests on the Uganda radio show really took to the Idea and said it was a great opportunity to implement in Israel and Palestine. I couldn't agree more.
The entire project was documented. I journaled my daily thoughts and struggles to show the scope and versatility of the Idea. Like my book, Khadijah goes to School (http://khadijahgoestoschool.com/about), the underlying idea of the campaign rests in the message of the book: "helping yourself and helping other people™," this is universal. http://youtu.be/wpyw-WnvU5Y
A Toy for You A Toy for Your Neighbor™ is meant to be modeled by people everywhere in the world. In faith communities like Churches, Gurdwaras, Synagogues, Mandars, Temples, Mosques and the like or by anyone who cares about their community. It's an Idea to build goodwill and strengthen the tradition of gift giving.
Being Muslim, I naturally used Eid to demonstrate this unique Neighborly and Personal gift giving initiative. A Toy for You A Toy for Your Neighbour™ is now public! It's available for you to use for your special occasion!
As the slogan of the campaign goes, "Goodwill is easy."
I close with the A Toy for You A Toy for Your Neighbour™ Rap I produced during the campaign, again working with an incredible artist who cared about this initiative.
A Toy for You
A Toy for Your Neighbour™
A gift for You
And do a favor
Just like the message of Khadijah goes to School
When you give to someone else
You know it's really cool
helping yourself and helping other people™
A beautiful tradition
We can make it our mission
The Toy fundraiser that we got
Kids will love it a lot
Goodwill is our goal
Just give it a shot...
A Toy for You A Toy for Your Neighbour™ in pictures:
Official campaign site for A Toy for You A Toy for Your Neighbour™
Khadijah goes to School on facebook: