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Ford City boy wants to give toys to HAVIN

| Monday, Nov. 9, 2015, 3:46 a.m.
Louis B. Ruediger | Trib Total Media
Markayne Duncan, 9, of Ford City, shows off a few of his favorite toys on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015.

Markayne Duncan doesn't want any toys for Christmas. Instead, the 9-year-old Ford City boy wants to give toys away to HAVIN, a shelter in Kittanning for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

“We're going to have a toy drive,” Markayne said.

The soft-spoken Lenape Elementary School student recently gathered a few of his favorite toys at his Fourth Avenue home. He plans to give those — and any new toys collected from area businesses and individuals — to the shelter before Christmas.

“I don't want Christmas presents this year,” he told his mother, Rebecca Early. “My birthday's close to Christmas — lots of people buy me birthday presents — so I can give all my Christmas presents away.”

Early said her son first brought up the idea of giving up his gifts back in May. It was shortly after he had set up a lemonade and cookie stand outside his home to raise money for his friend who has cancer. In two days he raised almost $300.

After he gave the money to his friend, he began talking about his plan for Christmas.

“I thought it would be a passing thing but he brought it up again the other day when we were in the car,” Early said.

So they brainstormed about how he could meet his goal of collecting 100 new toys before Christmas.

“He wanted to rent himself out to work at Wendy's or McDonald's, but he's not even 10 yet,” Early said.

Eventually they figured he should just keep it simple and write a letter about what he hopes to do. He and his mom will be stopping at local businesses within the next few weeks seeking toy donations.

Early, who is a beauty stylist at Safari Sunsation at 420 Third Ave., Ford City, said any new donated toys can be dropped off there.

Although Early has no experience hosting a toy drive, she is happy to help her son with his Christmas goal.

“He's a sweet kid and he's really emotionally connected with people,” she said.

Jo Ellen Bowman, HAVIN's executive director, said other children have donated their presents to HAVIN, sometimes at Christmas and sometimes on their birthday.

“We can't tell you how much it means when someone like Markayne, a 9-year-old, reaches into his heart and puts others before himself — understanding and caring about other children who are less fortunate than him — and in this case those who are struggling with family violence or sexual assault,” Bowman said.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or bbeatty@tribweb.com.

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