Following a cluster of COVID-19 cases in Banqiao District, New Taipei, hundreds of people have been forced into quarantine facilities. And that includes many young children, including some from a local preschool. The city government has stepped up to provide new toys to ease the friction of two weeks stuck indoors.

A child smiles at the camera and clutches a new toy. Train sets and pen sets and figurines lie all around. As soon as the photo is taken, the boxes are shredded and playtime begins.

Another child leans over a train track, eyes shut. They fell asleep mid-play. These brand-new toys have all been given to local kids by New Taipei City’s Social Welfare department, in an effort to ease the frustration of a spell in a quarantine hotel.

Chang Wei-ting

New Taipei toy bank manager

I’m grateful there are so many manufacturers who’ve donated us toys that perhaps have minor flaws or just toys from their stock houses. Brand-new toys like these are really easy to give away. Parents send us back photos of their kids getting them, and the parents are delighted. They say it makes them cry to get such wonderful toys.

All toys are checked carefully before being given away. Colored markers are taken out and given a test run, to make sure they’re not dry. Batteries are tested, too.

The train set is a perennial favorite. They’re put in bags and a card is attached. Each bundle has at least three toys inside. Sets of toys have been given to 166 children so far. One mother shared a video of her child and Dad showing you how to put the toys together. They couldn’t stop playing until 11 p.m., she says.

Chang Wei-ting

New Taipei toy bank manager

They’re separated into zero to two years old, three to six years old, and elementary age. We pick the toys that are most appropriate for them. A little package like this can tide you over for two weeks or so of isolation. You need things that can be played with for a long time, so we deliberately chose things that you can operate somehow, that stimulate the intellect, and that keep your hands busy.

With such a cornucopia of toys available, organizers do their best to select toys that will be just right for the age of the child receiving them. If they hit the mark, those two weeks’ isolation could be a happy memory for life.