Toy exchange program celebrates 25 years

Toy exchange program celebrates 25 years
November 16
05:00 2017

Throughout his years in the Recreation and Parks Department, Ben Piggott has implemented countless programs that still live on to this day.  Close to Piggott’s heart is the Peace Toys for War Toys Exchange Program, which held their annual basketball game and toy donation on Nov. 7 at the Carl H. Russell Sr. Community Center.

The Peace Toys for War Toys Exchange Program was started in 1992 by Piggott.  It was created as a result of the violent death of his brother Kermit, who was killed in November 1991, to transform the minds of children from violent activities into peaceful ones.

The program serves as a peaceful reminder for children and adults to deal with violence.  Children are encouraged and given the opportunity to exchange war toys for free peace toys. 

“This is all about giving back to the children and I feel good about that,” said Piggott.  This program is great for the kids because it shows them there are other options for toys that they can play with besides violent ones.”

For this year’s basketball game, the Winston-Salem Police Department matched up against employees from the Recreation and Parks Department.  This is the first time in years they have played one another because recently the Police Department faces off against the Fire Department.

The game was very competitive from start to finish.  Both teams went in with confidence but when the horn blew to end the game, the Recreation and Parks Department were victorious winning by a slim margin of 57-54.

It was a back and forth game to start as the Recreation and Parks Department took an early 10-1 lead.  The Police Department quickly fired back with a run of their own.  By the end of the half, the Police Department led 26-21.

They continued to claw and scratch throughout the second half.  The Recreation and Parks Department held a slim lead with 12 seconds left on the clock and the Police Department had possession of the ball.  With seconds on the clock, the Police Department missed a potential game tying three-pointer as the buzzer sounded.

Piggott, who will be retiring at month’s end, says he has really enjoyed watching these games over the years.  With the Recreation and Parks Department winning, he said he will have some bragging rights for the next year.

“It made me feel good to see the Recreation and Parks Department come out with the win,” he said.  “I got chills because I remember back in the day when we played the Police Department we didn’t lose.  I am happy but I am more happy because we will be able to help some kids.

“There are a lot of toys over there that were given and even though I am retiring, this is a sweet victory,” he continued.  “I can smile about this for at least a year and I get emotionally charged because I get to feel the spirit of my brother and mother.  I can feel the spirit of my brother every time a toy went into that box, and I feel good about that.”

Even with the loss, the Police Department was happy to be involved with such a good cause.  Head coach for the team Jerome Paul says they were happy to partner with the Recreation and Parks Department to try and curb the violence.

“I am always happy when I can do something with Ben for a good cause,” said Paul.  “What’s going on out here is terrible because our young people are killing each other.  I’ve been with the police department for 26 years and I’ve been participating in this every year in some way, shape or form.

The Recreation and Parks department were overjoyed with their win last week.  While they say they will miss Piggott dearly, they know his legacy will live on with programs such as this.

“This is something he has been doing for 25 years now and he has been an integral part of our department and anything we can do as a group to help him out we will be right there,” said Recreation and Parks Department District Supervisor Gary Lash.  “Ben is a legend around here and everything he does is from the heart.”

According to Piggott, they will continue to collect toys up until the distribution date on Dec. 16.  The toy exchange will happen at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Education Building from noon-2 p.m.  He says he wanted to thank his various sponsors who also donated toys, time and effort such as SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now), The Winston-Salem Parks and Recreation Department, The Winston-Salem Police Department, Prince Hall Masons and Eastern Stars, Carolina Cruisers, Carl H. Russell Sr. Sittercise Class, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. and The Chronicle newspaper.

Piggott also stated that for parents who do not have any violent toys to exchange, they can bring three canned goods as a substitute and their child will be allowed to choose a toy.  The canned goodswill then be donated to the local food harvest.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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