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New Jersey's River Edge Green Team has proven to be an incredible collection partner with Second Chance Toys. Both this year and last, they collected over 1,000 toys within four hours during each of their events at Cherry Hill School in River Edge.
 
Since they seem to have a formula for a successful collection, we asked River Edge Green Team leader Bonnie Stewart for some tips on how to make the most of a toy drive.
 
Here's what she and her team did:
 
 They publicized the event in the town newspaper for several months.
 
 They reached out to WCBS-FM, a popular local radio station, for support from their street team. The station had prizes for attendees and played music, keeping things fun and lively.
 
 They sent out e-mail blasts to all of the local schools and day care centers.
 
 They printed colorful flyers about their event and put them at local businesses and municipal buildings.
 
 They collaborated with Atlantic Coast Fibers to arrange for same day/location shredding of personal papers, giving local people another reason to come down.
 
 They timed the event to coincide with Earth Day, when there is more “green” awareness for recycling toys and for spring cleaning.
 
 They will collections about the same time and in the same location each year so people can save toys throughout the year know they will have a collection in their community.
 
 
Special thanks to all those involved for their efforts in making their collection a huge success and for making a difference in the lives of thousands of families in need!

       

Twenty hardworking Viacom employees gathered at Fairlawn Recycling Center in New Jersey to clean and pack up an entire 1-800-GOT-JUNK? truck worth of perfectly usable and fun toys for children in need. This year's donation came in at 1,500 toys! The collection was done as a part of Viacommunity Day, a day of service for Viacom employees worldwide.

 

"It was three hours of fun, cleaning, and bonding for us. The best thing is that kids will get to play with these toys again," commented Patrick O'Sullivan, the Viacom Team Captian for the event. This year, toys collected were delivered to Greater Bergen Head Start, The Vince Lombardi Center for Hope in Newark, and the Apostolic Church in Newark. Excellent work, Viacom!

The 300 toys donated to the children at Vince Lombardi Centers of Hope this Earth Day marked the 10th straight year of toy donations to children in the City of Newark, NJ. In honor of that occasion, Mayor Ras J. Baraka presented us with a Certificate of Appreciation from the city. We'd like to pass that appreciation on to our wonderful collectors and partners who have made the past 10 years of donations possible. Thank you!

 

For their Earth Day collection this year, Booz Allen Hamilton found a way to collect over 800 toys for organizations in Northern Virginia and Baltimore/DC. We wanted to share some of their strategies, in case your organization might be able to follow their lead for future collections!

1. Set up a visible collection spot. Booz Allen Hamilton holds a winter new toy collection, and already had the fencing seen here. Employees were already familiar with the fencing and idea of a toy collection, so it was easy to make the transition to collecting used toys instead of brand-new.

 

2. Open up the collection to everyone. Getting the on-site childcare center involved in both collecting and preparing toys equated to more awareness and fun for everyone. 

 

3. Use Earth Day as a day to gather everyone and work together. Earth Day fell on a Friday this year, so the employees at Booz Allen Hamilton's headquarters, the teachers and children from the on-site childcare center, and employees from nearby locations all participated in cleaning up the toys on that day. Using Earth Day as a culmination of the drive helps drive home the message of the collection-- to reuse and recycle! 

 

We would like to congratulate Booz Allen Hamilton on a successful Earth Day collection. We'd also like to thank their local moving vendor Office Movers, who donated their time and equipment in delivering toys to three local organizations: Jill's House, Northern Virginia Family Services, and The National Center for Children and Families.

 
Second Chance Toys is blessed to have partners and volunteers from all walks of life. One of SCT’s newer collaborators is Phil Schlesinger, a high school student from Long Island. Phil began a toy collection drive tied to his Eagle Scout Project with Boy Scout Troop 106. The collection launched at Middle Village’s Trinity Lutheran Church on April 16 and ended on April 27. He collected 500 toys!
 
Phil answered some questions for the SCT blog about his Toy Drive and plenty more. This is far from Phil’s first volunteer work. For more information on Phil’s project, click on over to www.facebook.com/philseaglescoutproject.
 
When did you start as a scout?
 
Philip Schlesinger: I started as a Cub Scout in the first grade when I was six years old. My Cub Scout pack had advertised in my school and I decided to go and check it out. I started with Boy Scouts at age 11 when I crossed over from the Cub Scout pack.
 
How did you first find out about Second Chance Toys?
 
Phil: I saw the segment on Good Morning America and I thought, "Wow, this is a really good idea for a charity, keeping the plastic out of landfills and helping kids at the same time." And that's when I had the idea to do this for my Eagle Scout Project. I started working with Second Chance Toys when I signed up online about a month ago. 
 
Tell me more about your recent work with Second Chance Toys. Who are the toys collected going to?
 
Phil: The toys are going to local children in need at the International Children's School in Flushing, Queens.
 
Is the first time you have done charity work?
 
Phil: No, this is not the first time that I have done charity work. I have always participated in this type of work as part of my troop, but this is the first time I will be organizing and managing an entire project myself. Our troop tries to participate in community service on a regular basis -- coat drives, food for soup kitchens and food banks, etc. We donated several truckloads of supplies to the Rockaways after Hurricane Sandy. One of the things I was most proud of was raising over $500 going door-to-door one afternoon, which was used for school supplies after Hurricane Sandy to benefit the affected communities. 
 
What inspires you most to do good for your opportunity?
 
Phil: Smiles on people's faces, little kids saying thank you, the response back from the community, and knowing that I'm just doing my part. 
 
Did you have a favorite toy when you were younger?
 
Phil: My favorite toy was a LeapPad and other educational toys.
 
When you're not busy with school or the scouts, how do you like to spend your free time?
 
Phil: I usually spend my free time either hanging out with my friends or playing guitar.
 
Darren Paltrowitz is a New York based writer. He can be followed on Twitter under the handle @Paltrowitz and contacted through his website, www.paltrowitz.com.
“I’m superhero of the trash!” my prekindergarten student joyfully exclaimed as he placed a cardboard crown adorned with bottle caps and corks on the top of his head. 
 
He had assembled his royal creation using recycled materials that we regularly collected in our classroom. As a teacher that promotes the importance of imaginary play, working with recycled materials was a valuable part of classroom life. Through our arts program, we introduced children to the concept of recycling by connecting it to inspiring creative activities.
 
Here are five simple projects and conversation-starters that help young children explore the infinite possibilities of up-cycling. 
 
#1: Recycled Materials Collage
 
First step, save your finds! Encourage your child or children to save their recycling for a full week: bottle caps, toilet paper rolls, juice boxes, scraps of paper, water bottles and more. Creating separate bins for their items makes it easy -- and fun! -- to see what has accumulated. This experience helps children begin to develop their perspective on how much trash and recycling they produce, and also delivers a range of open-ended material to create with. 
 
Once your child has a substantial collection, invite them to make a collage on a thick card-stock or cardboard piece—they can arrange a scene, make it abstract or create a three-dimensional sculpture. 
 
Materials needed:
- a substantial amount of recycled materials
- thick piece of cardboard or card-stock
- glue, tape or any other type of adhesive
 
#2: Painting with Recyclables
 
Place a long sheet of white paper on the floor, and secure the corners using painter’s tape. Surround the paper with trays of tempera paint and a variety of recycled materials like paper towel rolls, corks and plastic bottles — no brushes needed today! 
 
Invite children to collaborate as a group to bring their mural to life using only the recycled materials as their “brushes”. As children work together to cover the canvas, they develop a range of fundamental skills, from fine and gross motor movements to their communication and social abilities. Make sure to share concrete observations about their process as they work, such as “you are using your whole arm to move the bottle in a circle” or “you are using the bottom of the cork to make prints.” It’s a great way to encourage a child to value their process over their results. 
 
Materials needed:
- a long sheet of white paper
- tempera paint in assorted colors
- a small collection of recycled materials.
 
#3: A Recycled Marble Run
 
Save your paper towel and toilet paper rolls for a few days. You’ll also need a marble and a roll of painter’s tape; any width will do. Choose an empty portion of any wall. With the rolls you have collected and the painter’s tape, devise a large-scale marble run to tape to your wall that will allow the marble to run all the way through. Connect the tubes, create tunnels and experiment with hidden passageways! 
 
As children work to create a marble run structure that works, they explore important math concepts and scientific principles like gravity, geometry, and engineering. What I love most is that this project organically encourages trial and error, which helps children develop problem-solving skills and perseverance. This STEM activity has offered hours of engaged play and fun for my students.
 
Materials needed:
- a small collection of cardboard tubes from toilet paper and paper towels
- a marble and a roll of painter’s tape
 
 
#4: Toilet Paper Roll Stained Glass
 
To begin this project, sit with your child and show them pictures of stained glass. Discuss the art form and let them know that they are going to have the opportunity to create a painted version of stained glass. Lay out a large sheet of tracing paper on the table. Invite your child to dip the top of their toilet paper tube into the black paint and stamp it onto the paper to create a black circle. Have them repeat the process and cover their paper with black circles in a design of their choice. When they are happy with their design, let the paint dry. Once dry, invite them to paint the inside of each circle with watercolors to create the illusion of stained glass. Hang the creation in the window and watch as light reflects through the watercolors. Who knew that a toilet paper roll could allow your child to create a masterpiece?
 
Materials needed:
- one toilet paper roll
- black tempera paint
- tracing paper (non-wax)
- brush
- watercolors
- pictures of stained glass.
 
#5: D.I.Y. Recycled Drum:
 
To create a drum, save a large tin can. Cover the edges with masking tape so the sharp edges do not hurt your child. Once complete, help them to cut the upper half of a balloon off (right where the top bulb begins). Stretch the balloon over the top of the can and ta-da: you have created the top of your drum. Decorate the base using whatever materials you choose. 
 
For the drumsticks, popsicle sticks, leftover chopsticks, your hands or twigs will all work. Use recycled materials to create D.I.Y. instruments that will keep your child singing and dancing.
 
Materials needed:
- tin can
- balloon
- masking tape
- decorations (washi tape, sharpie, collage materials)
 
Thanks to Rose & Rex Founder, Allison Klein, for writing this article and for her creative ideas. Her online toy boutique and play resource has recently partnered with Second Chance Toys. We look forward to more great ideas from them in the future!

 

Most of us have had an interesting Spring so far! But it seems like the warmer Spring weather might be here to stay. I don't know about you, but as soon as the weather turns I start to get the itch to clean out the house and get rid of toys and other things we no longer use. That's why Earth Day (April 22) and the weeks around it are such a great time for toy collections. Many people are already clearing things out. 

If you come across toys to donate, visit our Drop Off Locations page to see if there's a collection near you. Some collections start as early as this weekend!

Gina Shimojo LCSW, manager of clinical services for a charter school in Brooklyn, recently spoke with Second Chance Toys about the importance of toys and play as they relate to a child’s long-term developmental health. Here’s what this social worker and new mom had to say: 
 
1) How did you first find out about Second Chance Toys?
 
I first learned of the SCT Mission through friends that work at Second Chance Toys. It sparked my interest since they provide toys that are invaluable in my line of work.
 
2) How did your collaboration with Second Chance Toys start?
 
As a school social worker, I am constantly on the look out for charitable organizations that may assist the students and families that I service with resources they may not otherwise be capable of accessing. Luxuries like toys are often difficult for the families that I work with to afford. Additionally, schools often do not have the funding to purchase toys for recess and play time, which is why Second Chance Toys is such a needed organization.
 
3) What made you decide to work in the education field?
 
As a social worker, I wanted to be able to assist, support and facilitate change amongst youth that are demonstrating behaviors that greatly impact their social, emotional and behavioral functioning. Working in the school system allows me to do this, while also providing me with a setting where I can progress monitor the effects of my therapeutic interventions. Children spend anywhere from 30-45 hours a week in school. During this time, they are learning how to sustain in the classrooms, attend to classwork, manage social and academic challenges, cultivate relationships with their peers, etc. As a school social worker, I am privy to the way in which the children I service behave, emote, socialize as well as cope, which further informs my level of support and the necessary forms of intervention needed to best assist those with whom I work.
 
4) How does a charter school compare to a regular public school?
 
Charter schools provide an alternative education option to children in the community. While Charter schools, like public schools, are government funded and are subject to the educational standards and regulations determined by the government, they are independently run, giving them more freedom and flexibility in their operations. Per the school's "charter," which is a performance contract that details the school's mission, population served, teaching methods performance goals and methods of assessment, a Charter School can emphasize a common goal or specific focus of education, utilizing specialized curriculum or alternative learning philosophies. They are held accountable for academic results, as outlined in their charters, and must demonstrate academic achievement in order to remain open. 
 
5) How does play factor into a child's development?
 
Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, behavioral and emotional well-being of children and youth. Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. It allows children to explore the world, practice adult roles, and gain confidence as well as improves their social skills by helping them to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and to learn self-advocacy skills.
 
6) What are some toys that you think work best for a child's development?
 
In addition to being safe, the best toys are those that match children's stages of development and emerging abilities. Toys, games, books, software (etc) that are best for children are those that have multiple benefits and can be a valuable tool in learning. Toys that provoke imagination (doll houses, dress up clothes, play kitchen/food, cars and trucks), encourage physical or muscle development (wagons, bikes and skateboards), influence sensory development (water toys, bubbles, sand box and play dough) offer varying levels of activity (computer games or educational toys that evolve with stages of development such as art supplies), invoke problem solving skills (puzzles, blocks and books) are durable and attractive (bright colors and plastic non-toxic toys) and can be used to facilitate independent, parallel and shared play are preferred.
 
7) What would be the best way that one of our readers could help your school?
 
The best way for your readers to help schools, such as the one that I work for, is to reach out to the school's clinicians (social workers, psychologists, counselors) to see what resources they are lacking and how best they can support the efforts of the charter. 
 
Darren Paltrowitz is a New York based writer. He can be followed on Twitter under the handle @Paltrowitz and contacted through his website, www.paltrowitz.com.

It's Read Across America Day! We thought today would be a great day to share Second Chance Books with you. Though we're unaffiliated, we certainly share a lot more than our similar names. Second Chance Books works much like Second Chance Toys, only with donated used children's books. Consider checking them out and donating books your children no longer need! 

Founded by Nancy Dean, a retired librarian, Second Chance Books is a children's book donation group. In other words, the non-profit collects gently-used books and recycles them to communities in need. Ultimately, Second Chance Books is an on-going collaboration between parents, students and teachers.

"Recycling is important to me for the sheer fact of cutting down on landfill waste," said Karrie Dean, the organization's co-founder and daughter of Nancy Dean. She added: "So many items, like books and toys, can be 'upcycled' to kids in need. It's a win-win." When recycling like that happens, books are kept out of landfills while also getting a "second chance" to reach new readers. As 47% of fourth graders from low-income families read below the basic level -- while 26% of materials entering landfills is paper-based -- book-recycling expands access to books and spreads the joy of reading to more young minds.

Second Chance Books encourages groups to have book drives, and is able to pick up books in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York; books can otherwise be shipped to their headquarters for distribution. For more information on Second Chance Books and how you may get involved, click on over to www.secondchancebooks.org.

 

We posted earlier about the successful toy drive that Chobani had at its Idaho facility, but they were also massively successful at the company's New York headquarters! The employees in New Berlin and Norwich, NY collected enough toys to completely fill up a truck, inside and out. The toys were delivered to the non-profit Roots & Wings, which provides household goods, food, and clothing to 225 families going through emergencies or hard times.

 

We love when different groups work together, especially when it's centered around a collection of toys for children in need! The Enivornmental Club of Pascack Valley High School got together with Daisy Girl Scout Group #96970 of New Milford, NJ for a successful toy drive this holiday season. Thanks to everyone involved!

Evergreen School in Scotch Plains, NJ conducted their annual gently-used plastic toy collection for the holidays. In one hour they collected 450 toys that were, thanks to 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, delivered to Community Coordinated Childcare in Rahway and to Hopes CAP in Plainfield. The children worked hard to clean the toys and make sure that no parts were missing and batteries functioning. New batteries were swapped out for old, and the plastic toys were as good as new. Thanks Evergreen for helping less fortunate children who depend on your kindness!
 

We were excited to partner with Chobani for the first time last year. At their facility in Twin Falls, Idaho, they collected hundreds of wonderful used toys for children at One Church One Child, a state-run organization that helps place foster children in their forever homes. Chobani has industrial-sized scales, so they decided to weigh their donation. It tipped the scales at 541 pounds of donated plastic toys (see photo). Amazing!

Thank you, Chobani!


 
I never fully understood the idea that a toy can change a child’s life – until I met Anthony.
 
Anthony was one of the first children to receive a toy from Second Chance Toys – back in the early days. He and his brother were living in a homeless shelter in Newark, NJ at the time.  Anthony picked the plastic dinosaur from the pile of gently loved toys we dropped off that holiday season.  Like hundreds of thousands of other kids, Anthony was the recipient of one of our toy drives where we collect, clean and redistribute plastic toys to children in need. We do our part to help save the earth from non-biodegradable plastic – and we recycle love for kids.
 
Anthony’s mom recently told me that Anthony’s plastic dinosaur is still at the top of his toy pile today. You see, Anthony is really interested in science and the way the world works. And that toy dinosaur is inspiring him to pursue an education in the animal sciences – and become a scientist – to buy his mother a beautiful home so that she will never be homeless again.
 
This year, Second Chance Toys will mark its 10th Anniversary. I can’t believe it has been ten years since Sasha collected her first pile of toys off the curb one autumn day. It changed our lives forever. And it has changed the lives of more than a million disadvantaged children.
 
We now have requests from more than 650 recipient organizations for over 250,000 toys. We’ve come a long way from that first pile of toys but we still have so much more to accomplish. And we hope more businesses and families join us in this mission that could really change the world – and make a real difference in the lives of children.
 
Our Road to 10 kicks off this month.  It’s a 10-month countdown where we’re asking for your help to keep efforts at Second Chance Toys going full throttle these upcoming 10 months.
 
So please donate $10, 10 x $10 or whatever you can afford. Tell 10 friends or colleagues about second Chance Toys. Think of 10 new ways you can help a child in need. And join us on our Road to 10 as we unveil a series of events, activities and funding opportunities.
 
Wishing you and yours – and all the children we serve through SCT – a fabulous 2016!
 
Shelly Lipton, SCT Board Chairman
 

Tashua Elementary School in Trumbull, CT held its 5th annual Second Chance Toy Drive this year and it was--once again, hugely successful! Families from the school and surrounding area (especially the 5th graders, who tied the toy drive into a service project) collected close to 1,000 toys. Below are some photos of their efforts, which also grabbed the attention of their local newspaper. Well done, Tashua!

 

 

 

A big thanks and congratulations to our partners at Kidville (and 1-800-GOT-JUNK?--who delivered the toys) for collecting more than a thousand toys at its multiplie collection locations across the NY Metro area. Way to go! 

Another successful Toy Drive from Kidville!

Members of Johnson & Johnson's EarthServe Team from Raritan, NJ hand-delivered hundreds of toys to Refugee House Community Development in Bound Brook, NJ. Pictured below are some of the organization's employees with portions of the donation. Thanks, Johnson & Johnson!

 

Established by three school psychologists in New York, The Successful Child was created to help children become successful individuals, both academically and behaviorally. Providing an interactive approach to learning, The Successful Child team provides instruction related to reading, writing and math. Their curriculum is collaborative with schools and families, further customized to meet each child's particular abilities and needs.

In this SCT blog submission from the The Successful Child staff, it is explained how toys can actually prepare a child for long-term success both in and out of the classroom. A variety of skills can be developed from a play session, which emphasizes how learning is something that happens in more places than we realize. More information on their wonderful organization can be found at www.thesuccessfulchildny.com.

Photos from The Successful Child NY's first toy donation this holiday season,
delivered to the NY Council on Adopted Children

 

Toys: Kids’ Tools for Success
Guest post by The Successful Child NY

Why are toys so important for children? Often, they are simply used to keep kids occupied, but in reality, there’s so much more toys can do than “babysit.” Toys are actually instruments that can help children learn and discover the world! They are vital tools that stimulate child development, including cognitive, social, emotional and motor skills.

Here are some areas in which toys can play a crucial role in a child’s development:

Cognitive: Toys offer an opportunity to increase one’s concentration skills, promote problem-solving strategies, encourage imagination/abstract thinking and develop language skills. Items like board games and puzzles can also help increase dialogue and improve math skills.

Social: Toys help teach children about the society we live in and facilitate social skills. Playing with peers or adults helps to promote respect, cooperation, negotiation and sharing. Toys also allow children to actively explore many other important societal rules in a natural and safe environment.

Emotional: Toys offer children an opportunity to openly express themselves. Through playing with toys, children may gain the ability to identify, navigate, understand, process and work through feelings. By using pretend play with toys or creating a fantasy world, children are provided with an outlet to act out feelings and emotions. As a result, there is potential to increase emotional stability.

Motor: Beginning at birth, toys are used as motivators for children to use muscles and develop fine and gross motor skills. Toys assist children in discovering balance and coordination. Dolls and figures offer an opportunity to increase fine motor skills, by engaging in dressing, undressing and pretend feedings. Children also enhance their sense of touch and sight, which increase fine motor skills.

Tricycles, walkers, cars and playground equipment increase gross motor skills. These toys work on strengthening arms and legs. As a bonus, these activities give children further motivation to begin exercising at an early age, potentially avoiding the risks of childhood obesity.

In addition, a single toy can help children develop in a variety of areas. 

For example, crayons and plastic blocks can enhance a child’s well-being in three areas at the same time. 

Crayons:
Cognitive-Providing a creative outlet
Emotional- Insuring a visual outlet
Motor- Enhancing hand-eye coordination 

Plastic blocks:
Cognitive- Promoting mathematical concepts
Social- Providing an opportunity to build and create with others
Motor-Using fine and gross motor muscles to build

When your child is “just playing” with toys, please understand that they are doing so much more -- they are learning and developing all at once!

Since it’s clear that toys may be crucial for a child’s development, it’s important that children play with toys beginning at an early age. Unfortunately, not all children have easy access to toys; those that do often outgrow toys quickly. Instead of tossing out perfectly good plastic toys that could be valuable to other children, consider sorting through old toys with your child. Explain the importance of giving back to others by recycling those toys to Second Chance Toys. They can go a long way in helping another child maximize his or her development.

The Successful Child offers a holistic and integrative experience in addressing behavior, social and academic skills.  We offer custom-tailored services and fun classes that engage your child in learning and give them a competitive edge. For more information visit: www.thesuccessfulchildny.com

 

Thanks goes out to two of our tremendous corporate sponsors, Viacom and 1-800-GOT-JUNK, who've been working with us for many years. This year the Viacom Controllers Team collected close to 150 toys for Room to Grow NYC, a non-profit organization that provides support, supplies, and an inviting space for babies born into poverty. Our transportation partners at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? are generous enough year-after-year to provide their trucks and manpower to deliver toys all across the US, and they were on hand to deliver the toys to Room to Grow NYC.

Thanks again to Viacom for their collections and to 1-800-GOT-JUNK? for their support!

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