Susanne Bartsch and David Barton are bringing back their annual toy drive to help underprivileged children and teenagers in the Tristate area.
First started in the mid-Nineties, the holiday event has not been held for a few years. The Dec. 14 event will be held at Barton’s new TMPL gym in the West Village at 125 Seventh Avenue South. Bartsch and Barton will have added support from this year’s hosts Marc Jacobs, Norma Kamali, Steven Klein, Alan Cumming, Cindy Sherman, Char Defrancesco and MILK. New nonwrapped gifts get guests in the door and the first holiday drink is on the house. This year’s toys will be donated to children through Lincoln Medical Center, NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem, MountSinai Hospital, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, My Sisters Place and the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, according to Jonathan Bee, who is instrumental in helping to get the games, dolls, makeup and other gifts to the underserved.
Recalling the early days of the gift-giving party, Bartsch said her son Bailey was just a boy. (Now he is 24 and lives next door.) “It was partially because we have a son and we really wanted to do something to help. A friend of ours is also very involved with a children’s center and he said, ‘There is always a shortage of toys. Kids don’t get any gifts. It’s a problem. People think there are too many, and then there isn’t enough,’” she said. “We said, ‘Why don’t we have a celebration? If we do it at the gym, we don’t have to pay for anything.’ It just really came together from hearing there was a need for these toys.”
More than 25,000 toys were collected during one of the first annual events, Bartsch said. “There were mountains of toys. There were more than 2,500 people and people brought more than one toy. It was about uniting and helping. People really enjoy going to buy a toy. A lot of people don’t have children, they don’t even have families. You could see from people’s faces that they were enjoying themselves. They wanted to show the toy they bought. Marc Jacobs comes as the host with bags and bags of toys like Santa flying through the sky. There is such a beautiful feeling all around. We just gave people a chance to help kids. It just kind of became an institution.”
Bartsch said she totally agrees with Charles Eames, who once said, “Toys are not really as innocent as they look. Toys and games are the prelude to serious ideas.” The “Queen of the Nights” own playfulness is being used for a monthly “Play Now!” at # Dollar Bill in Brooklyn. And her “Bartschland Follies” cabaret continues at the McKittrick Hotel.
Regarding her own childhood leanings, she said, “I was obsessed with dolls, which was so weird. When I was really small, I always said, ‘I want to be a baby nurse.’ In a way, I have this motherly thing in me.…I pick up all these creatures who don’t have support. But I’m not interested in having babies or making babies at all. I think there are too many people in the world. But dolls were my obsession when I was younger. Then my father made us a beautiful dollhouse. Dolls and a dollhouse were what I played with all the time. And board games.”