Debra Miller, a Philadelphia-based teacher and enthusiastic supporter of Second Chance Toys, generously took some time to answer some questions about how SCT makes a difference in the lives on her students.
As Ms. Miller explains below, every little bit helps in the classroom, as oftentimes school districts cannot afford to provide all of the resources needed for and by students.
What did you wish more people knew about teachers and the overall profession today?
Debra Miller: I wish people understood how hard teachers work. It's not just the hours in the classroom. It's planning and individualizing lessons so that each child gets the information in ways that are easy for them to comprehend. Children come into a classroom with different levels of what they know. Some children have been exposed to things outside their neighborhood while other live their life in a six block radius and never experience anything different. It takes a lot of time at home to coordinate lessons and teach individually and in small groups, which is what the district is moving to.
How did you first learn about Second Chance Toys?
D: I received a letter in the mail from Craig Scott and his children about 10 years ago when they were first starting Second Chance Toys. I was the Head Teacher at a school district of Philadelphia, a site of Head Start. We had 114 children, all low income in the middle of North Philadelphia. Any donation we received was greatly appreciated.
When did you first get involved with Second Chance Toys?
D: I responded and spoke to Mr. Scott. His involvement was tremendous. We arranged for a toy delivery for Christmas. The 1-800-GOT-JUNK? Truck arrived with bags and bags and bags and bags of toys. We were able to fill up an entire room with toys for the children to come in and select any toy they wanted. I cannot tell you how wonderful it was. The looks on the children's faces and their pride in their selection was amazing. This participation continued for the next eight years until the school district closed that site. I contacted Mr. Scott to let him know that Trinidad had closed and I was now at another Head Start in an elementary school. He was so nice to continue the generous donations at my new location.
What is your favorite part about being involved with Second Chance Toys?
D: This is a wonderful team of people that work tirelessly to ensure that low income children receive good quality recycled toys that are brand new toys to them. Many of these children come from single parent households with many brothers and sisters, and have little money left to buy toys. My classroom children receive toys every year.
Is there a toy or item that's been donated that has especially meant a lot?
D: We had a little boy this year who was extremely developmentally-delayed, and had no communicable language, along with several other special needs. We received a multi-purpose play cube that contained a bead on three different wires that were curly, humpy, windy, on one side, another side of the cube had different shapes that spun around, another side had bells, and buttons and knobs to turn and each one created another sound, and so on. We knew this was the perfect toy for this child. He sat for an hour on the floor after he received it just playing and exploring. It was the longest time he sat still and focused on anything for that long.
What sorts of items are most useful to receive in donation drives?
D: Anything. Remember , most of these children have nothing. The girls love kitchens, doll houses, carriages, anything Dora and Barbie. The boys love cars and trucks and basketball hoops, and Spiderman and Batman, bikes. But truly just anything they get to pick and take home and call their own is enough for them.
Finally, how can someone be most helpful to a teacher like yourself?
D: Teachers have very little supplies and buy most of the things for their classrooms and necessities for their children themselves. I buy my children pencils, composition books, pencil boxes every September, and throughout the year we buy supplies to enhance our lessons. There are never enough books in a classroom for the children to read and take home and love. A teacher is grateful for any donations, she will always find a use for anything.
Author: Darren Paltrowitz, Music & Media Licensing at Viacom
It's summer! Here are a few tips to enjoy time outdoors in a ecologically responsible way.
1. Garden. Show kids where food comes from by establishing your own garden. Even the smallest of spaces can be home to a few containers for growing herbs, lettuce, or even tomatoes. For bigger areas, plant fun things like blueberries and strawberries that kids already enjoy. And try out some others that your kids might not "like"-- sometimes seeing and waching how something grows will spur a child to give it a try when it's on their plate!
2. Seek out water. Instead of sitting inside with the A/C running, head to a nearby lake, beach, or river and enjoy some time splashing there. Make sure to turn your thermostat up while you're out so it isn't running unneccessarily. (Most recommendations are to set your A/C to 75 while you're home, and a few degrees higher if you'll be leaving. On the other hand, setting the heat to 68 in the winter is a common recommendation.) Visiting lakes, beaches, and splash pads instead of running the sprinkler or filling a baby pool will save you and the Earth lots of water!
3. Explore your yard and neighborhood. Grab a jar and try to find insects in your own yard. See what you can find! When night comes, catch fireflies with a net and place them in a jar and watch them light up. Remember to put some grass and leaves in the jar, a wet paper towel to keep the air humid, and be sure to poke a few holes at the top. Release the bugs when you're done watching them. If bugs aren't your thing, search your neighborhood for native flowers. Bring along pencils and a pad of paper to draw your favorites. Try not to pick any, since wildflowers are a vital part of the ecosystem.
Have a great summer!
It's been a busy few weeks here! We're excited to announce that Earth Week 2015 collections totaled 10,000 toys. That's 10,000 toys in the hands of children in need, rather than taking up space in a landfill. That's roughly 20 TONS of plastic saved! A special thank you to all of our volunteers and to our partners at 1-800-GOT-JUNK, Kidville, Kohl's, and Viacom. Let's do it again next year!
The outstanding team at Viacom never ceases to amaze us! Our third annual Viacommunity Day partnership went off without a hitch. The volunteers showed up full of energy, ready and excited to prep close to 1,000 gently used plastic toys for local kids in need.
100 Viacom associates volunteered to spend the day cleaning, tagging and bagging all of the toys that were collected at 10 participating Kidville drop-off locations across the city.
The Second Chance Toys DJ had the crowd dancing as they moved from station to station making sure each toy was spotless and ready to go. It didn’t stop there-- the volunteers created posters and wrote messages to the recipients on hang tags that were tied to each toy so the love could be spread from the Viacom White Box in Times Square, throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn before the last donation stop in the Bronx.
We had an outstanding amount of support come through during the event—
Viacom CEO, Philippe Dauman, and COO, Tom Dooley, stopped by to join the party and let the team know how proud they were of them.
Tee Lawton from Mount Hope Housing came by to thank everyone on behalf of his recipient organization and the families who would be getting some of the toys.
John Lehman from Kidville stopped by to show his support and represent the outstanding Kidville Team. And as always, our dedicated friends 1-800-GOT-JUNK? were in attendance ready to load up their trucks and make toy deliveries to the hundreds of smiling little faces.
Viacommunity Day 2015 was a big success and we couldn’t have done it without everyone involved! Thank you all for your dedication to our mission, the Earth, and the kids.
Oftentimes, when a "rare collection" is being auctioned off, you expected to hear about Sotheby's or Christie's acting on behalf of the upper crust. But every now and then comes a heart-warming rarities auction of sorts.
Enter Joe Moscone, a publicist who had worked with Hasbro for a long time.
Joe is now auctioning off his large collection of toys to benefit Receptions for Research: The Greg Olsen Foundation. This organization helps provide hospitals, doctors and scholars with "the resources necessary to enhance the lives" of those suffering from forms of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Selling off items through eBay, Moscone is posted around 15 new items each week through the June. Among the rarities currently up for sale are pieces related to "Star Wars," "G.I. Joe," "My Little Pony," "JEM," "Deadpool" and Wolverine from "X-Men."
So the next time someone mocks your collection of toys, remember that toys can go a long way in making a difference for others.
Author: Darren Paltrowitz, Music & Media Licensing at Viacom
Last week, an interesting news story came out about Amazon, as highlighted by Caroline Bologna with The Huffington Post. Amazon, the undisputed king of online retail, made the decision to no longer sort toys by gender. Or, as Jack Danger pointed out on Twitter, “there are no more 'boys' and 'girls' sections.”
This development is an intriguing step forward when it comes to the gender role debate. It states that we are no longer to assume that G.I. Joe's (or whatever the character of the moment is) are for boys and Barbies are for girls. Organizations like ThinkProgress, Planned Parenthood, and Teaching Tolerance, clearly now have an impact on commerce.
But wherever your personal politics lie on gender roles, it is important to remember that toys are an important part of one's childhood. For me personally, the action figures I was fortunate to have of WWF wrestlers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters were integral to the development of my creativity. To my parents, maybe those figures were little more than hunks of plastic, but to me, they were my entertainment. And all these years later, I still remember the fun I had with them.
So even if a particular action figure or doll seems “too girlie” at first glance, remember that someone out there would love to have it.
Author: Darren Paltrowitz, Music & Media Licensing at Viacom
This Earth Week, Second Chance Toys teamed up with 1-800-GOT-JUNK? at 11 different locations from Washington DC to Boston! Together we collected over 1,500 gently used plastic toys that were delivered to deserving children in the same communities they were collected.
We weren’t the only ones impressed by Got Junk and their supportive communities, Mayor DeLuca of Maplewood, NJ stopped by to show his support too!
Thank you 1-800-GOT-JUNK? We look forward to keeping plastic toys out of the landfills and delivering smiles to children together again in the future!
This Earth Week, associates from Booz Allen Hamilton in Mclean, VA collected beautiful gently used plastic toys with Second Chance Toys. The Booz Allen associates held a cleaning and tagging event after the toys were gathered to make sure they were in perfect condition for their new owners.
With the help of our friends at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? Washington DC, all of the toys were delivered to two different local recipient organizations serving kids in need.
A BIG thank you to everyone who helped with this initiative! Your efforts put smiles on the faces of many deserving children, all while helping the environment at the same time.
Together with Kohl's Cares, the volunteer and community service arm of Kohl's Department Stores, we saved 3,000 toys from the landfills this weekend! This year, for our National Go Green Event with Kohl's Cares on April 25, we did something different. We coordinated 32 events across 5 states with more than 350 Kohl's employees volunteering their time and donating toys to organizations that directly benefit children. Those organizations included many Head Start locations, women's shelters, and low-income/free daycare programs. While on-site, the volunteers brought in and tagged their toy donations, cleaned toys that the organizations already had, organized toys by ages, removed broken toys from shelves, cleaned off toy storage areas, and they even built a new toy shelf at one location!
Overall, the day was a huge success. We want to thank the wonderful organizations we worked with, and especially the volunteers from Kohl's who donated toys and their time for this incredible event! We're sharing some of the photos from the day here. We've rounded up all of the photos and social media posts on our website. Take a look!
Here at Second Chance Toys, Earth Day is one of our favorite days of the year. It's an excellent time to connect with children about the Earth, and talk to and show them the importance of the three Rs! Here are some of our favorite things to do with kids on Earth Day:
1. Plant a tree. Now that warmer weather is on its way, April is a great time to get outside and plant a tree that your yard, park, or community needs. Some of the benefits of trees include reducing pollution and improving air quality, fighting climate change by reducing surface temperatures in hot months, providing shelter and food for wildlife, plus trees are fun to watch grow over the years!
2. Take a walk instead of a car ride. Show kids that there are ways to get places without involving a motor that produces pollution. Double benefit--it's good for you, too!
3. Start composting. Many of the things we throw out every day could actually be composted. Things like apple cores, coffee grounds, and egg shells can be composted instead of taking up space in a landfill. At-home composting can be done easily, and larger cities including New York City even have compost drop-off areas.
4. Unplug. Take a break from the electicity-guzzling television, phones, and computers and enjoy a day outside with your kids! We come to depend on these devices, but it's important to take time and just enjoy your children. Play a game of soccer, roll down a hill, do a potato-sack race, do some hopscotch, or lay down in the grass and name the shapes of the clouds!
5. Donate unused toys. Recycling and reducing can be easier to explain to kids, but reusing is a little trickier. A great way to do that is to go through old toys and donate any toys that haven't been played with in over six months. And by donating those toys to children in need, your kids will also learn how it feels to do good for others. It's no coincidence that one of our two donation times is during Earth Month (April). Visit our drop-off location page to see if there's a place locally where you can drop-off toys. If there isn't, consider holding a toy collection next Earth Day!
If you can't get around to any of these tips today, maybe tomorrow works better. Or better yet, make EVERY DAY Earth Day!
Kohl’s Cares and Second Chance Toys are partnering for the 6th consecutive year in honor of the Kohl’s Cares National Go Green 2015 Event on April 25th.
This year, associates from 74 different stores in Region 15 across Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia will be collecting gently used plastic toys for local children in need. Keeping the non-biodegradable plastic toys out of landfills is another mission that Kohl’s Cares is passionate about and they are always there to support Second Chance Toys in our efforts.
To take it one step further, the Kohl’s Cares associates will be volunteering at each recipient organization to help them unpack and organize the donated toys, clean and straighten up their already existing toy supply, build and paint new toy storage, as well as some other tasks that will allow the recipient children to enjoy their valuable playtime.
We can’t wait to share the toy results and event photos with you!
Stay tuned, this is going to be great!
Our valued supporters at Kidville will be partnering with us once again to help kids and the environment!
The Kidville Spring 2015 collection locations in the NY metropolitan area can now be found in the Drop-Off Locations section of our website. Finish up your spring cleaning by bringing your gently used plastic toys to a Kidville location near you May 6th-May 13th.
Thanks for your support, we couldn't do it without you.
Want to be Good and Green this Earth Week? It’s easy and convenient!
Second Chance Toys is teaming up with 1-800-GOT-JUNK? this April to collect unwanted gently used plastic toys for children in need. Toys will be collected at 11 locations from Washigton DC to Boston. All toys will be donated to deserving children in and around the very same communities they were collected.
To participate, simply gather all of the plastic toys your children are no longer using and find a location near you by clicking here.
- Plastic only
- Clean/gently used
- No small or missing parts*
- Batteries need to operate
*Parts that can fit through a toilet paper roll are too small
Thank you for helping kids and the environment!
It's time to combine two traditions of Spring: Earth Week and Spring cleaning! It's a great time to go through old toys and reevaluate what you need. And that's what your neighbors will be doing too. Why not hold an Earth Week toy collection to save some of the unwanted toys from ending up in a landfill? Toy collections can happen with as few as 50 gently used plastic toys.
Thanks to our volunteers' incredible efforts, Second Chance Toys has now placed over 200,000 toys at organizations serving disadvantaged children all across the country. As Second Chance Toys continues to grow, so does the number of toys requested. We currently have 520 recipient organizations who've submitted requests for toys totaling more than 250,000. Please help us make their wishes and dreams possible. Every single toy counts!
All that you need to know about holding a toy drive can be found in the email below. Know someone who might want to hold a collection this year? Forward this email to them!
Collection Registration Now Open
Registration for the Second Chance Toys Earth Week Toy Collection is now open. Click here to sign up.Take a look at our Getting Started Kit to see how simple it is to host a collection.
It's Fun to Do with SCT’s Support
We’ll provide you with all of the resources you need to make your collection fun and successful. Once you’ve collected at least 50 gently used plastic toys, we will match you directly with a recipient organization serving underprivileged children in your community so you’re able to deliver them.
Make a Bigger Impact
Feeling extra motivated? Make your collection public by opening it up to the community so they can drop their toys off and you’ll make an even bigger impact. You can post your public collection details in the Drop-Off Locations section of our website when we provide you with your own personal collector account.
Remember, Simple Criteria for Donated Toys
• Plastic • Clean/gently used • No small or missing parts* • Come with working batteries
*Parts that can fit through a toilet paper roll are too small
Kids are Depending on You
If you don’t have the 50 toy minimum and are located in one of our major metro markets, visit our website to find a drop-off location that is near your home. Drop-off locations are updated regularly during our collection periods so don’t give up if there isn’t one close to home right away.
Make A Real Difference…..Get Involved Today!
This Washington Post article proves why it is so important we all take care of the environment and keep plastics from harming the Earth.
Late last year we learned that, thanks to human beings, the oceans are carrying at least 5 trillion pieces of floating plastic — or nearly 700 pieces per human alive on the planet. In weight, that’s some 250,000 tons of the stuff.
But new research suggests that even that haul is probably a serious underestimate. In a paper published this week in the journal Science, Jenna Jambeck of the University of Georgia and a group of colleagues tried to estimate the total amount of plastic going into the oceans annually from 192 coastal countries, whose total population is 6.4 billion. People in these countries within 50 kilometers of the coast, the study estimates, produced 99.5 million metric tons of plastic waste in 2010 — and 31.9 of those million tons, the study estimates, were in some way mismanaged.
Thus, the authors calculate, each year about 4.8 million to 12.7 million metric tons of plastic are entering the oceans — for a midpoint figure of around 8 million metric tons. This is vastly higher than the number cited above — and moreover, it’s an annual number.
“It’s much larger than what they’re finding in the water,” says Jambeck. “But of course, as you know, they only can count what they find, and they only can find where they look.”
Like many other Second Chance Toys’ volunteers, Abby Schmidt had a few too many plastic toys at home. With the holidays quickly approaching, she knew she should donate some toys that her son had grown too old for, to make way for new toys that were sure to come at Christmas. And although she works across the street from a thrift store, the idea of donating her toys just for them to be resold didn’t sit well with her. She googled “toy donation” and “recycle used toys” and came across Second Chance Toys. There were no drop off locations near her, so she decided to go for it and hold a collection of her own at her family’s sign business in Berlin, New Jersey.
She put the word out on Facebook, placed a sign in the shop, and had her toy drive listed on the Second Chance Toys website. She was amazed when people just began stopping in to drop off toys. Many of them were first-time visitors to the shop.
“People seemed happy to be able to donate their used toys, rather than selling them at a yard sale or some other sale. You could tell it made them feel good. It made me feel good too,” noted Abby.
In the end, the people of Berlin collected a truck-full of toys that Abby was able to deliver to a local daycare center for children with special medical needs.
When asked if she’d hold another toy drive, Abby enthusiastically said yes. Knowing that the children at the daycare center will be enjoying toys that are basically indistinguishable from their brand-new counterparts makes any effort totally worth it. In fact, they may hold a toy drive in a few months for Earth Day.
We hope Abby’s story inspires some of you to try out a toy drive at your business. With not much time invested, you could bring smiles to local children in need. And who knows, maybe you’ll make a new customer or two from it!
The Westfield Cub Scout Pack 171 and Wilson PTO SCT Toy Collection was a huge success over the holidays!
Hundreds of toys were collected by the dedicated volunteers and our friends at 1-800-GOT-JUNK picked up two truck-loads of gently used toys to deliver to some very deserving local kids. Great job everyone!