Skip to content

Grinding Gears: Do you want to help me give away toy cars, just to spread a little joy?

Auto columnist Brendan McAleer has 100 Hot Wheels to share in Lynn Valley and beyond
Hot Wheels McAleer - web
A Hot Wheels car finds a spot to park on a desk cluttered with odds and ends. Columnist Brendan McAleer is hoping to give away 100 toy cars to spread a little joy around the community.

Neighbours, I am so very proud of you.

Every day I drive past the Lynn Valley library memorial, and see the kindness of the people who live here, right there on display. Faced with the worst, our community responded with our best. And I could use your help with something small, if you have a chance.

It was our library – every other Friday, I would take my daughters there to get books for the weekend after school. We might wander over to get a treat from the little grocery store. The kids might just want to run around the plaza. It was a safe and happy place.

Trying to explain to two young and curious people what the fire trucks and ambulances parked there meant was difficult. I worried about them being scared, about bad dreams in the night. They already have to deal with the strangeness of living during a pandemic, masks, no hugs, staying apart from friends, and worried adults.

But a core part of parenting is honesty. I told them about what happened, and answered their questions as best I could. Then I told them what I saw.

A reporter from CTV was on the scene early, and had tweeted out photos showing the victims. None were alone. All were surrounded by civilians and first responders, helping them. With the speed of water closing around a rock dropped into a pond, the compassion of ordinary people rushed in.

The ripples spread. Everyone wanted to know how to help. Online fundraisers were made and almost immediately reached their goals. I went with my eldest daughter to lay some flowers, and we could scarcely find room for them, so many were the tributes.

From a senseless wound, gratitude. This is what's important, I told my children. Watch how people help each other. The way in which we are responding to this is how we should strive to live each day.

Which brings me to Hot Wheels (bear with me). Just before Christmas last year, I got it into my head to drive around with a box of tiny toy cars, and leave them on the windshields of any interesting-looking vehicles. I left a Nissan 300ZX on a 370Z, a Porsche racing car on a Cayman, a Mazda MX-5 on a manual-transmission Mazda3, a Subaru WRX on a Subaru WRX.

With each, I included a little note. Cool car – hope this Hot Wheels brightens your day. Santa.

It seemed a silly thing to do, but people responded to the idea, and someone eventually got word to Hot Wheels. Which meant that, a few weeks ago, a large parcel arrived at my door. “Hello, what's this,” I said, followed immediately by a loud, unintelligible shout of delight.

Recently I had the sad honour of writing a tribute to Hot Wheels designer Ryu Asada, for Road & Track. A man who changed the face of the brand, he died of cancer at the age of just 42. I heard from hundreds of people, telling of how his little creations had changed their lives.

“Ryu loved how cars connected people.” his wife Hazel Diaz Asada said. “He created meaningful relationships by sharing his passion for cars with others.”

Combined with my own desk drawer full of Hot Wheels (for emergencies), I have 100 Hot Wheels that I would like to give away. I want to see them left on minivans that have car seats in the back, or just randomly handed to strangers, or shared with a friend, or given to a favourite teacher.

If I can get a few helpers, I'll divide them up, fitted with “Hope this random Hot Wheels brightens your day,” notes, and drop them off. The day after, we'll hand them out around Lynn Valley. I should point out that Hot Wheels the brand has nothing to do with this, and yes I know this is a rather silly idea.

It's just a thought to scatter joy around for no reason. No reason other than kindness naturally ripples out from even small things. And yes, you're free to keep one for yourself. Will you help me?

Brendan McAleer is a freelance writer and automotive enthusiast. You can contact him at Follow Brendan on Twitter: @brendan_mcaleer.