In an attempt to curb violence among youngsters, an east Columbia congregation again is collecting toys that promote or glorify violence. It is one of several countywide activities in observance of "Focus on Peace Week."
The 45-member Columbia United Christian Church, which meets at the Meeting House in Columbia's Oakland Mills village, created and organized the toy turn-in effort, which will collect toys at locations throughout the county on Saturday.
The event is among a number of workshops, discussions and activities sponsored by the Howard County Clergy for Social Justice through Feb. 18 and intended to promote peace in the community.
The need for such anti-violence initiatives was illustrated this month when Kenneth Harvard, 19, of the 7300 block of Hidden Cove, was shot in the head while sledding near his home, said one organizer.
"We [county residents] feel like we're immune because we don't live in one of the 'Big Cities,' " said Susan Nicholson, a member of the toy turn-in committee. "We feel violence is a learned behavior. This would be a way to unlearn some of the violence."
Toys of violence are defined as those that teach war as an acceptable way of settling disputes and encourage hurting or killing others. Again this year, the toys dropped off will be transformed into a peace sculpture by Baltimore-area sculptors Jim and Mary Deacon Opasik.
For more information about the toy turn-in, call organizers Merle Forney, (301) 572-5103, or Betty Ure, (410) 992-9224.