Photo and story by Neena Strichart
Generosity is one of Suzanne Mills-Winkler’s traits. Her only problem recently was to whom to be generous. Mills-Winkler owns Dynamic Designworks Inc. (DDW) in Signal Hill, and one of her former lines of products was children’s furnishings made entirely of a colorful, lightweight foam– hence the name– Foamables.
With Foamables no longer part of DDW, Mills-Winkler decided to donate the dozens of pieces she had in her inventory. After contacting Farah Naz Khalegi, executive director of the Long Beach Community Improvement League (LBCIL), she knew she’d hit the charity jackpot. The DDW owner planned to donate to a local children’s organization but wanted to make sure that kids from both Signal Hill and Long Beach would benefit. Finding LBCIL was perfect in Mills-Winkler’s eyes because the league has facilities in both the desired cities.
Early last Friday morning, representatives from LBCIL arrived at the DDW headquarters to load the featherweight furniture into vehicles before caravanning with Mills-Winkler to the Olive Avenue childcare center in Long Beach. Once the women arrived, the kids surrounded the bearers of the colorful furnishings and helped carry the pieces to the courtyard. Placing the items on the ground, the children then immediately sat on the chairs, played at the desks and took turns taking the pieces apart. Mills-Winkler was on hand to help them learn how to properly reassemble the Foamables. “We enjoy watching the kids; they are enjoying [the pieces] very much,” said Elizabeth Rodriguez, administrative assistant at the Olive Avenue facility in Long Beach. “The sizes are just at the kids’ levels and they can’t break it.
Later, the caravan took the other half of the items to be donated to the Las Brisas site in Signal Hill. The kids there had the same reaction– pure bliss. “They were mesmerized,” said Jan Blair, administrative assistant at LBCIL/Signal Hill. “They are real excited and did not want to go play outside.”