In 2008, community activist and sports commentator Harold Bell and his wife, Hattie, announced they would bring their annual Toy Party for Kids to a close after 40 years. Three years later, that may finally happen, but the Bells have found a new way to give.
The couple is the founders of Kids In Trouble, Inc., a nonprofit organization serving underprivileged children in the Washington, D.C. area, and has been hosting fundraisers and toy parties since 1968, the year they married.
The party was always a major event, featuring visits from Santa, the Washington Redskins’ Chief Zee and a number of current and former sports luminaries, including Redskins Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams, former NBA star Dave Bing—now mayor of Detroit—and sportscaster David Aldridge.
At the time, the Bells said the cost of hosting fundraisers and the logistics of organizing the parties had gotten more complicated with each passing year and Harold Bell said it was “time to pass the baton.”
But the Bells are a couple who find it hard to say no and, when they got a call in 2009 asking when and where the party would be held, they agreed to do it just one more time—but still held the party again in 2010.
This year, at long last, there will be no party, but the Bells have not retired from giving. They are sponsoring a toy drop off at Giant Food, 5500 Silver Hill Road, at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Silver Hill Road in Forrestville, Md. on Dec. 17 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
In an e-mail to board members of Kids in Trouble, Bell announced that comedian Chris Thomas offered to coordinate a benefit to raise money and toys for the organization. Another donor will provide computers to help Bell start an after-school computer lab for children.
“Man, It is great to have REAL friends!” Bell wrote. “I would be in BIG trouble without them!”