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Tildie’s helps Kirkbride School needs

Photo/Mark Zimmaro

Toys and kids have always made a great partnership. And you can add computers into that same mix.

It’s all coming together in South Philly’s East Passyunk neighborhood as a local toy store is helping put computers in classrooms.

Tildie’s Toy Box, 1829 E. Passyunk Ave., recently held a shopping day for Eliza B. Kirkbride School, 1501 S. 7th St., to help purchase a Smart Board for the fourth-grade classroom.

Tildie’s owner Michelle Gillen-Doobrajh donated 10-percent of that day’s sales to support instructional technology at Kirkbride, a kindergarten-through-eighth grade building, which operates as part of the School District of Philadelphia.

The independent toy store helped raise money for the Smart Board, and Kirkbride helped steer customers into the shop that has been hurt by the pandemic. The door swings both ways.

“When we started to think about how we wanted to raise money, we wanted to make sure we are simultaneously supporting these local businesses during this really tough time for them,”

said Patrick Manning, president of the Home and School Association steering committee at Kirkbride. “This seemed like a good opportunity so we just reached out, and Michelle the owner was so helpful and generous in organizing this.”

Families from Kirkbride as well as local residents shopped at Tildie’s both online and in person to support the school. Tildie’s Toy Box focuses on gender-neutral toys and books aimed to engage children in play through imagination, creativity and exploration.

“We thought of Tildie’s because she has a lot of STEM toys and kits and things,” Manning said. “So it seemed like a good fit.”

Smart Boards cost roughly $6,000 and the campaign put the school “very close” to being able to purchase the Smart Board, according to Manning. Placing a Smart Board in the fourth-grade classroom would ensure each STEM class at the school from fourth to eighth grade would be equipped with the state-of-the-art instructional technology.

“The Smart Board enables more of an engaged collaborative environment in the classroom that students have largely lacked in online learning through no fault of the teacher,” Manning said. “I think this is even more important now because of the additional elements that it provides in particular to STEM.”

At Kirkbride, fourth-grade STEM teacher Liza Taylor said, “When we are back in person, a Smart Board will increase student engagement and the activities in which we are able to partake.”

The campaign remains open, and any additional contributions can be sent to the Philadelphia FUNDamentals page at https://bit.ly/KirkbrideSTEM.

Manning said there are other fundraising projects also in the works that include a multicultural library and repairs to the school’s student orchestra instruments.

“Those are the three big projects we have been working on,” Manning said. “The other two are being funded a little bit more easily. I think people like music and literature but when it comes to instructional technology, it seems to be a little less cool. So it’s a little harder to get funded.”

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