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This holiday season marked the milestone 300,000th toy donated by Second Chance Toys. The 300,000th toy came from a collection at Evergreen Elementary School in Scotch Plains, NJ, under the direction of principal, Colleen Haubert, With the help of the PTA and their Kids Care group, Evergreen has been participating in collections with Second Chance Toys for the last 10 years. The community has come to expect the collections, saving up their outgrown plastic toys for the twice-yearly program. At each of their one-hour collections the school brings in an average of 500 toys.

The 300,00th toy, along with the other toys collected at the school, made its way to the Vince Lombardi Center of Hope, located in Newark, NJ, the city where Second Chance Toys made their very first donation 12 years ago.

Bronna Lipton, Executive Director, Second Chance Toys, recalls their first ever toy donation, "We will never forget the feelings of excitement and how thrilled everyone was to receive our good-as-new plastic toys. We could have never imagined, that the donation would not only lead to our becoming a nonprofit serving organizations all over the country, but that we would be back in Newark a dozen years later donating our 300,000th toy," she continued.

Toys were delivered with the help of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, who over the last decade has generously volunteered their trucks, manpower and time to transport supersized collections for Second Chance Toys. Without their participation, Second Chance Toys would not be able to manage large-scale donations. "Their involvement is key," noted Lipton.  "Because of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, so many more children are able to reap the social, emotional and developmental benefits that playing with toys provides, and they help keep thousands of pounds of plastic out of our landfills," she added. 

 

After going through my own kids stash of half used toys, I was ready to throw the bag into one of those generic collection bins you find in the parking lot of a grocery store. I didn't know where they were going to, if they were going to be sold for profit or who they would benefit and I wondered how much of it would even get reused. With all of these questions in my head and a bag full of perfectly good toys on my back porch, I started doing some searching to see what local organizations I could send them off to instead, and that is when I found Second Chance Toys. Knowing that there were other parents thinking like me, I felt compelled to organize a collection of my own.

For my first collection, we set up in Blairstown, Hope and Newton, NJ and advertised on social media as well as in local preschool and elementary schools resulting in somewhere around 600 items being donated. The Blairstown Museum is a huge supporter, they help with everything from advertising to storage and cleaning. The response was overwhelming and had such an impact that around September/October this year people started recommending me in response to families looking to get rid of used toys.

This year, with baby number 3 recently arrived, I did not have as much time to devote, so we had two collection boxes at Buzzwerks Barber Shop and The Blairstown Museum. We collected around 200 items in the 3 short weeks. I look forward to collecting again next year and hope to match or exceed the amount of donations we had the first year. I love that it both helps local families and the environment. We live in a society where so many "disposable" items are still very much usable and rehoming them by donating to families in need is a very responsible solution.

We asked second-time collector Lisa-Marie Machado to explain her decision to hold a second collection, this time on her own. Thanks, Lisa-Marie, for sharing your experience and good luck with your collection!

My name is Lisa-Marie Machado and I am a senior at Kean University pursuing Early Childhood Education with a concentration in Mathematics. Collecting toys last semester was an amazing and joyful experience for me and my group. Our organization, Portuguese American Club of Kean is still together but with new jobs and busy schedules we have not had the chance to work together on many things or even plan for new projects. Although this may be the case, I have decided to do the collection on my own this upcoming holiday season. It was so exciting to get all these toys in my garage that I want to have that same feeling all over again! I am truly excited. I hope to make it a service project for myself and my outgoing resumes as I graduate college this year and am applying for jobs.I hope to make a change in so many little children's and families' lives and expand that generosity as a passing it forward movement so that many others will reflect upon it and hopefully feel the same motivation to do good as I do. With a big heart and a desire to make a change, my goal beyond a numerical one of 300 toys, I hope to continue a cycle of good deeds.

Used plastic toys that previously languished in the attic or suffered the indignity of a garage sale are now being accepted as part of the recycling program expansion at the Conservation Center on Lamberts Mill Road in Westfield, NJ.

Beginning November 1, Rose & Rex, elegantly designed toys that promote imaginative play, will launch a month of giving to benefit Second Chance Toys. Throughout November, Rose & Rex, will run promotions on specific products and collections that will trigger donations to SCT. Additionally, a special promotion will be offered with their first branded product, The Calm Mind Kit which teaches mindfulness and meditation to children and is comprised of three toys along with a deck of Calm Mind activity cards.

With each purchase of The Calm Mind Kit, Rose & Rex will make it possible for Second Chance Toys to donate eight toys to children in need. Please think Rose & Rex for your gifting needs especially in November. Get your holiday shopping done early and help benefit Second Chance Toys in the process!!

Westfield Conservation Center in Westfield, NJ now has a permanent bin for plastic toy drop offs. It is the third permanent drop off of its kind in the state. Toys collected will be cleaned by Second Chance Toys volunteers and then distributed by 1-800-GOT-JUNK? volunteers. Read more details here. The center is located at 1300 Lamberts Mill Rd, Westfield, NJ 07090.

Our ongoing series of Toy Tales goes beyond the day of toy drop-off and takes a look at how donated toys change the lives and outlook of those who receive them. Today's Toy Tales is from a social worker at Therapy Associates/NJ Early Intervention System:

One of the families I work with has a son on the autism spectrum. He is two and has sister who is one. The family lives on welfare in a small apartment, and the parents are unable to continually purchase toys for their children's evolving needs and interests. Each time I visited with their son, we would play with the boy's toy barn and a couple of accompanying animals.

The last time I went, he had become dissinterested with the toy and many of the animals were missing. His lack of interest made sense, since the toy was really intended for children closer to one. This child desperately needed toys to help him with his cognitive, motor, and fine motor skills.


Photo courtesy Mega Bloks

Through a toy donation with Second Chance Toys, he received several Mega Blocks construction building block toys. These age-appropriate and cognitavely stimulating toys have been a big hit with the child. His parents report that the building block sets hold his interest for long periods of time, during which he is creating, problem solving, and generally enjoying play time.

Thanks to Blue School in New York City for compiling these awesome tips. So many great ideas for school collections!

 
  • Have your students make posters advertising the toy drive. Then, have the students hang up the posters around the school.
     
  • Have your students make flyers for the toy drive. Make photocopies so there are enough for every student in the school. Have a few students go around to different classes, explaining the toy drive and handing out the flyers for them to take home.
     
  • Place boxes on each floor of the school for the collection. Be sure that there is a poster on each box and make sure there is a box in the school lobby!
     
  • Have the students present and share information about the toy drive at an assembly or school meeting.
     
  • Read books about recycling to your class. Engage them in conversations about what we can reuse or recycling and why it is important.
     
  • Read books about toys and play around the world.
     
  • Generate excitement as toys begin to come in.
     
  • Connect the toy drive to other units of study in the classroom. For instance, have the students sort and count the toys in groups of 10 to connect to a math unit on place value.
     
  • Teach your class songs about recycling and planet Earth.
     
  • Have your students take ownership and care about the project. If there are not enough toys, ask them what they can do to help generate more. Make them feel like they are making a difference and feel proud of their accomplishments.
     
  • Run your toy drive for about 2 to 3 weeks. Be sure to give enough notice before beginning so families have enough time to go through their children’s toys.

Our planet has a population of over 7.5 billion people and as a result we dump a massive 2.12 billion tons of waste per year. This is partly because 99% of the stuff we buy gets binned within 6 months of purchasing - this isn’t including food, human, electronic and medical waste either. 

This waste ends up in a variety of different locations; landfill sites, dumps, and worst of all the ocean. If it continues at its current rate, in 10 years' time there could be over 80 million tons of plastic floating in our seas - and that figure will continue to increase if no real action is taken soon. To put that into perspective, the graphic below shows just how much waste that really is. 

It is estimated that up to 267 marine species are affected by plastic pollution within the ocean - and that’s just in the South Pacific Garbage Patch alone. So how can we - as a globe - start to reduce the amount of waste that goes into our oceans?

Well, there are simple ways to do this: 

  • Stop using plastic straws. They get mistaken for food and can get stuck in the mouths and noses of marine life.

  • Reuse your shopping bags.

  • Give up gum. Gum is made of a synthetic rubber aka plastic.

  • Purchase products in boxes not plastic bottles. Cardboard decomposes.

  • Eat fresh produce that doesn’t come in plastic containers or wrap.

  • Rcycle your rubbish and donate your plastic toys!

  • Support beach and river cleanups.

  • Avoid microbeads in your face and handwashes.

  • Spread the word about organizations that are addressing plastic pollution.

The plastic that is ending up in oceans is being transported all around the globe with currents. Imagine remote beaches on small Pacific islands, British coves and even Arctic ice, covered in plastic.

So, the next time you get a straw in your drink or get offered a plastic bag while doing your food shopping, think about our ocean.

This piece was presented by Eco2 Greetings

 

We asked first-time collector, Elizabeth Wilson, to reflect on the sucess of her collection this Spring in Parker, CO. She shared her inspiration behind holding a collection, and also some excellent tips for organizing toys as you collect! 
 
This is my first time to collect with SCT.  I found out about SCT through a neighbor who had collected some toys to give in the past. In January, I started a decluttering project at my home. I had plenty of toys that my kids outgrew or lost interest in, but yet the toys were perfectly usable. Seems like such a waste on many levels - more stuff in landfills, a child goes without, environment is cluttered, etc. I didn’t like the idea of throwing usable toys away that another child could enjoy if only the toy found it's way to that person.  
 
Second Chance Toys was an easy choice for me because I am aligned with the idea of helping families who cannot afford to purchasetoys for their children, and keeping perfectly good toys out of landfills. Plus, with my recent decluttering endeavor, it seemed like a win-win-win all around. I was able to round up 54 toys from my own home, so I was basically my own toy collection drive for SCT. 
 
The best collection tip I can give is to have organized stations throughout the process.  Usable toys go in one pile, unusable toys go in another pile for recycle. Then break down the usable toy pile into sub-stations - a pile for toys that need new batteries, a pile for toys that need wrapped for special handling (fragile, lots of loose parts, etc), a pile for toys that are ready to go for donation. Organization is key!
 
The other tip I would offer is to ask questions about each toy - is there a duplicate item already used in my home, has my child outgrown the item, is the item reusable or not, will my child miss the toy, does the item need to come with a manual so it's easier for the next person to use (TIP: user manuals can be found online if the original is lost). Questions such as these as I went through my house room by room helped me create the organization piles, which then helped me keep track of what to donate, what to keep, what was no longer usable by anyone. I look forward to collecting with SCT again in the future.
 

In celebration of Earth Month, Bradley Hills Elementary School, in Bethesda MD, conducted a collection of gently used plastic toys. According to parent, Sherry Altman, who led the effort, "The collection was very successful, a lot of fun, and meaningful for the children."

The students collected a total of 100 toys that were cleaned up like new and made ready for donation. A few children attended the donation at A Wider Circle, where they helped stock the shelves of the organization's "store." Families and children in need can go to this store to pick out toys for free.

We are so grateful for the participation and enthusiasm at Bradley Hills School. They not only helped others and made an impact for Earth Month, but the students learned firsthand the life lessons of giving and reuse. Great job!!

 

Michael Jankiewicz, a student at Oak Lawn Community High School, in a suburb of Chicago, was introduced to Second Chance Toys through the Windy City Green Team. They had just come off of a collection themselves, and Michael thought it would represent a great Eagle Scout project for him. He is currently a scout with troop 618 that meets at Trinity Lutheran Church in Oak Lawn. He not only was able to collect a massive amount of toys, but he cleaned them up to be good as new. 

"I was so happy to get an incredible response to the collection," Michael exclaimed. "Seeing over 400 beautiful toys that could have ended up in landfills made me so proud to have done something to help the environment and to know that lots of kids will be smiling as a result of my efforts," he added. Michael is pictured behind the poster, showing off his collection box when he first began the project. Also shown are some of the toys loaded for transport to the North Lawndale YMCA.

 

Second Chance Toys is thrilled to be partnering to collect toys with Walsh Construction, one of the largest builders in North America. They are a company that likes to give back to their local communities and they approached Second Chance Toys with the desire to get involved. 

Walsh Construction not only set up a collection at their Headquarters in Rutherford, NJ, but they collected at 5 other locations including Elizabeth, NJ and 4 construction sites for the redevelopment of LaGuardia Airport.

What we love about Walsh is that they employ their knowledge of green technology to assist their clients and to run their own business. "Keeping plastic toys out of landfills truly resonates with our sustainable practices," according to Mike Cyrulik, Sr. Project Manager NY/NJ & Lead Estimator. "To be able to help the environment while doing something for the communities in which we work is a win-win for Walsh," he added.

Close to 200 toys were collected and donated to Hopes Cap Somerset, Passaic County Women's Center, and Cienfuegos Foundation in Queens. Thank you Walsh Construction for all your enthusiasm and good will to help children in need and the environment. We are grateful!

 

 

Our ongoing series of #ToyTales goes beyond the day of toy drop-off and takes a look at how donated toys change the lives and outlook of those who receive them. Today's Toy Tales is about Ascend Charter Network, where the donated toys provide a mental break for kids, and offer something for them to look forward to during their busy school day:

My name is Rebecca Goldman, and I am a K-4 th grade school counselor at Central Brooklyn Ascend Charter School in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. This past winter, your organization donated a very generous portion of toys to the Ascend Charter Network. I wanted to take this moment to express how much we appreciate this donation, and what is has done for our scholars here at school.

As you may know, the academic day here at school is long, and rigorous. Scholars spend a large part of their day engaging in academic instruction. As the school counselor, I often get to engage with our scholars when they are stepping away from the academics. In these moments, we are working on social-emotional learning, often achieved through play. Your donations have been a critical component in allowing us to facilitate this social-emotional growth.

Our office is composed of a Social Worker, a School Counselor, and a Student Services Coordinator. All three of us have been able to see firsthand the impact your donations have given to our scholars. We have many scholars who come in to our office each day. Many of these scholars struggle behaviorally, and need breaks throughout their day. The bins of super heroes, the Bat Man Tower, the games, and the dolls are all fan favorites. We have kids in our school who are motivated to do well simply because they know that they will be able to play with the toys at some point throughout their day.

Having these resources is critical for the work that we do. Thank you so much for your continuous donations, and giving our scholars the resources they need in order to build their social emotional skill set. It is greatly appreciated!

We loved seeing this video created by River Edge Green Team from their most recent collection. So fun to see a collection in progress!

On June 9th, Citi celebrated their Global Community Day, in which employees all over the world are offered opportunities to participate in a day of service. Second Chance Toys was thrilled to be selected this year as a non-profit partner organization.  Sharon Den, Program Manager, Employee Engagement noted, "This was a great activity for our New Jersey-based employees to participate in along with their friends and family. Many of the volunteers brought along their children, who also benefitted firsthand from the life lessons of giving and reuse."

Second Chance toys had 22 Citi Volunteers sign up to clean 900 gently used plastic toys collected by Paramus Department of Public Works throughout the year. In three-hours' time, volunteers sorted, inspected and cleaned the toys to good-as-new condition. They then bagged them all up to be readied for transport by 1-800-GOT-JUNK? to the local organizations that care for children in need.

As for the volunteers, they had a chance to meet other employees, to get to know one another outside the office, and to feel good about helping both children in need and the environment.  According to Citi Volunteer, Nikhil Gadkari, " I really found the experience rewarding. As a father of 3 boys, I’ve seen firsthand how those piles of toys add up and get discarded.  It was actually refreshing to see these toys get a second chance – and potentially make another kid get excited.”

 

This past Earth Month, the Windy City Green Team, located in Evergreen Park, a Chicago suburb, held their first gently used plastic toy collection. They hit the ground running with the wind at their backs, and the result was an extremely successful collection of beautiful good-as-new toys. Patti Lynch, Cheryl Orlowski and Sue Smith worked together to make it happen.... from promoting the collection and a kickoff drive at one of their homes, to setting up a collection at Heather and Vine Florist, and cleaning and preparing the toys for delivery to a local organization. They continue to encourage others in the area to collect, including a Boy Scout going for his Eagle Badge. Patti Lynch noted, "We were so excited to get this effort going, and even more excited to see how quickly we could make a powerful and positive impact to help local kids and the environment."

Thank you Windy City Green Team! 

 

Our ongoing series of #ToyTales goes beyond the day of toy drop-off and takes a look at how donated toys change the lives and outlook of those who receive them. Today's Toy Tales is about Freedom House/Barrier Free Living NYC, a fully accessable domestic abuse shelter for families and individuals.

Childcare specialists and social workers at Freedom House/Barrier Free Living NYC were elated to receive a beautiful donation of toys to use with the children. "The toys have impacted children in a very positive way." stated Yenely Gomez, MSW and Director of Child Care/Recreation at Freedom House. "Through use of the toys and play, the children can express their feelings more easily about domestic violence in the family. Additionally, we sometimes have families that come to our facility with nothing, just the clothes they are wearing. Having some toys available to play with is both welcoming and comforting for the new children."

Childcare specialist, Alva Ross, also noted, "We have a lively group of boys who are really enjoying the race track and cars donated. The children are using their imaginations to create car races or car pile ups. The older children, girls included, are enjoying racing the remote-control car around the childcare room. They have had to take turns sharing the car and have been kind and generous in doing so." She adds, "The children are benefiting through imaginative play and learning teamwork skills with these wonderful toys."

 

Our recent outreach has resulted in more recycling centers and green teams stepping up to conduct gently used plastic toy collections! Fair Lawn Recycling Center and the River Edge Green Team have been collecting for years and serve as proven model programs that keep thousands of toys out of our landfills and allow us to reach many more children. Because of the strength of these programs, we are now beginning to attract interest from other towns. And why not?  The benefits are real, and there is no reason why toys should be tossed, when so many children go without them.  

While the Green Teams inspect, sort and clean the toys they collect, Second Chance Toys will bring in volunteer teams to do the same at the recycling centers. We then match up their huge collection with multiple local organizations that serve children in need and arrange for transportation of the toys.  

We are proud to recognize the towns that have joined in to help children and the environment:

- Fair Lawn Recycling Center

- River Edge Green Team

- Paramus Department of Public Works

- Hoboken Green Team

- Westfield Conservation Center

- Windy City Green Team

Thank you!

 

Rose & Rex is thrilled to have worked in partnership with Second Chance Toys for the past two years. As a teacher founded and curated brand, we believe that play is the single most important developmental tool young children have. Play is a right, not a luxury. All children should have the opportunity to play in a healthy world, which is why we are so committed to Second Chance Toys’ mission to provide toys to children in need and reduce plastic waste.

Through our #PlayItForward Initiative, every purchase on Rose & Rex allows us to support Second Chance Toys in their efforts to rescue, refurbish, and donate toys to children in need. In addition to donations made possible through product sales, we have sponsored events and toy initiatives to increase visibility for the work that SCT is doing, and to encourage families to donate their used plastic toys.

A highlight of our partnership was a toy collaboration between Rose & Rex and Hazel Village, in which we created exclusive “give back” stuffed animals to benefit Second Chance Toys.

This spring, Rose & Rex and Second Chance Toys sponsored a collection event with Finally Home Jersey City. Families were invited to a fun-filled day of play where we collected many used plastic toys, which were then donated to local families in need.

We look forward to continuing to support Second Chance Toys and their work of bringing play to all children, regardless of circumstance.

 

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