At a very young age, Justin Edwards knew that he wanted to help the less fortunate when he grew up. So, it’s not surprising that as a 33-year-old man, he sits at the helm of Black Chip Kin, an organization that produces a clothing line and also gives back, in many ways, to the community, especially young children.
Edwards’ drive to help others in need emerged from the compassion he felt when he was still a child and witnessed human suffering up close. At only 8 years old, while visiting his “little brother” at Memorial Sloan Kettering, Edwards noticed many other ailing children, some his own age or even younger, and was deeply affected by their distress. He resolved then and there that “When I grow up, I’m going to do something to help — and I kept my word.”
For Christmas 2014, Edwards hosted a toy drive for children in his community and has done so every December since, with the exception of two years during the COVID-19 pandemic. “He’s always had a kind heart and he’s always wanted to give back so I’m really, really proud of him,” his mother Ofelia shared. Edwards’ generosity and commitment giving back have earned him support from members of his community, including local businesses, as well as assistance from State Senator Roxanne Persaud and the Panamanian Diaspora. “We started at Bildersee and you know what they say, ‘Build a ship and they would come,’” Edwards stated confidently.
On Saturday, December 17th, supported by his parents and team from Black Chip Kin, Edwards hosted his 7th Holiday Toy Distribution at the Canarsie Library, located at 1580 Rockaway Parkway. In addition to hundreds of new, unwrapped toys, the group gave away free haircuts, performed right there in the library, and printed, decorated and distributed tee shirts, also on site. Additionally, there were live podcasts, face painting, raffles and dance competitions in which the children participated, allowing the winners an opportunity to acquire extra toys and lots of food and beverages.
The event was well attended, prompting the host to already consider having a larger venue in the future, in anticipation of an even “bigger crowd.”