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Regional Report : BOYLE HEIGHTS : Real Estate Firm Sponsors School Toy Library

March 06, 1994|DIANE SEO

Starting Tuesday, elementary children at Utah Street School in Boyle Heights will be able to borrow everything from Barbie dolls to soccer balls to the newly popular Mighty Morphin Power Rangers at the school's new toy library.

Mitsui Fudosan (U.S.A.), a Japanese real estate development firm with offices in Downtown Los Angeles, is sponsoring the project and has converted a classroom into a library with custom shelves, new carpeting and 500 to 600 toys. Utah Street School is the first campus in the Los Angeles Unified School District to have a privately sponsored toy library.

Although students on Friday had an opportunity to tour the freshly painted library after an opening ceremony, it will be open for browsing and borrowing only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during its first three months, after which the company will decide whether it will remain a twice-weekly operation.

"The children's eyes are going to fall out when they see this," Principal Dee Dee Mynatt said as she showed off the well-stocked library before the tour last week.

The library will lend videos, puzzles, sports equipment, dolls and board games. Students will be allowed to check out one toy per week. Those who return toys on time and in good condition will earn points.

After earning a predetermined number of points, students will be allowed to select a toy to keep from the Awards Cabinet. The toys will get progressively bigger and better as the children continue to earn and redeem points.

Almost all of the 900 students attending Utah Street School are residents of the Aliso Village Housing Project, one of the largest public housing projects in Los Angeles. The school's population is roughly 95% Latino, 3% African American and 2% Asian.

"I think it's a good idea, because a lot of kids live in the projects and don't have toys to play with," said Rosalia Meraz, a sixth-grader who lives in Aliso Village. "I think it'll be good especially for the little ones who don't have anything to do after school."

Mitsui chairman Shuhei Okuda said he hopes to expand the program throughout the Los Angeles school district.

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