Rebuilding a Child's Paradise
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Rebuilding a Child’s Paradise

Ryva Novick, seen here overlooking a reading session, founded the Children’s Storefront over thirty years ago.

Imagine a place packed with your favourite books and toys—a place with no schedules, few rules, and filled with your best friends. Then, imagine if that place were destroyed overnight. The Children’s Storefront, a community based child-care centre located near Bathurst and Dupont for over thirty years, went up in flames on October 31. Now, the people who love it are trying to rebuild, beginning with a set of fundraising events.

The centre is a place where parents and young children can go and interact with other members of the community in a really positive environment. It was originally conceived as a toy library and play centre, and has since become a refuge and cherished space for generations of families.
The unique thing about the Children’s Storefront is that it’s a completely unstructured environment. There’s no play time or circle hour. The parents and the kids run the show.
The first fundraiser will be held tomorrow, November 24, at Tranzac (292 Brunswick Avenue, just south of Bloor). There will be a children’s afternoon with balloon artists, magic shows, and book readings from 1–5 p.m., followed by an adult-focused evening with a silent auction and live musical performances featuring Bellwoods Trinity and Ninth Planet.
On December 19, there will be a book, baked goodies, and toy sale at Scadding Court Community Centre (707 Dundas Street West).
Roona Maloney, executive director of the Storefront, says that the funding they receive from the city isn’t nearly enough to start rebuilding. They didn’t just lose the property, but also their treasured collection of rare books and unique toys, amounting to an estimated seventy-five thousand dollars. “They were things that were used by children every day,” said Maloney. “You can’t just call the bookstore and get those back.”
“It’s a huge loss,” said Linda Read, mother and grandmother, who has been involved with the Storefront since her sons were little, about twenty-five years ago. “As a mom [the centre] saved my sanity. You realized all the stuff you were going through; you weren’t alone.” Her sons are now adults, and she takes her grandson, Oscar, to the Storefront.
They’re looking for a new place to relocate in the neighbourhood that has lots of sunlight and room for the kids to play.
Until they raise enough money, the organization is operating out of the gym at St. Alban’s Boys’ and Girls’ Club (843 Palmerston Avenue), but a cavernous athletic facility doesn’t quite seem appropriate.

CORRECTION: NOVEMBER 25, 2009 This article originally misspelled the last name of the Storefront’s director, Roona Maloney, as “Mulroney,” and provided an incorrect date for the store’s rummage sale in December—it takes place on December 19, not December 20.