Imagine this: One email and suddenly you’ve got hundreds of toys stacked high in your garage. That’s what happens twice a year for the Savage family in New Jersey. People from all over the school district swing by the Savage residence to unload a car or van full of toys. The family, along with teenage friends of their two sons, cleans the toys and delivers them to organizations in need.
The family’s interest in Second Chance Toys began when they started looking for a charity to volunteer with that could work around their hectic schedule. Anyone who has two teenage sons knows that there’s never a dull moment. With a different game or activity each night, it can be hard to nail down a regular time to volunteer somewhere. That’s not a problem with Second Chance Toys. Collections are run on the collector’s terms, so working the drive into their busy schedule was much easier.
For their first-ever toy drive, the Savages had the smart idea to ask their sons’ school district to include a note about their collection in an email sent to every parent in their (very large) school district. Little did they know just how effective this email would be! In no time, their two-car garage was stacked high with close to 1,000 toys. That year the toys were going to a local Head Start location, so the Savages loaded the toys into a rented Uhaul and made the delivery. As they hauled the toys into the conference room, teachers from Head Start stood sobbing from the generous donation. That remains a favorite and cherished memory of the Savage Family.
Another favorite moment came when they were delivering toys to a Catholic Charities location. The toys were being placed in an all-purpose space with glass walls. The children stood at the walls watching with excitement and anticipation as they brought each toy into the room.
Memories like those make it easy and exciting to hold the drive each year. This year marks the 5th year the Savages have worked with Second Chance Toys. After that first successful year, 1-800-GOT-JUNK volunteered their services and now provides transport for the toys.
Although it’s certainly far from the reason they started volunteering with Second Chance Toys, the Savage’s successful toy drives have even given them some local notoriety. Their newspaper did a write up about their efforts one year, and mother Bonnie Savage recalls sitting at a school site council meeting once, listening to the principal boast about the great toy collection that students were running—only to realize that he was talking about her sons!
Thanks to the continuing generous donations from the families in the South Brunswick School District, and the hard work and smart planning on behalf of the Savages, they’ve been able to collect, clean, and deliver close to 5,000 toys to children in need in New Jersey so far.
The nonprofit organization, Project SEEYM, stands for “Supportive Empowerment Events for Young Mothers” and was founded and exclusively designed to empower and support low-income young mothers and young fathers who are living in low-income housing arrangements.
The organization’s purpose is to empower young adult parents (ages 17-24) by offering them encouragement, support, and an array of resources through a variety of community events. These events are geared for the family learning experiences as they explore opportunities they may enjoy with their dependent children. The program helps enable the young parents to pursue higher education, entrepreneurship, or job training programs that will improve their lives and the lives of their children.
Throughout the year, participants look forward to Project SEEYM events that provide the young families with parenting skills seminars, health and wellness workshops, influential guest speakers, entrepreneurship opportunity referrals and entrance into job training programs. The goal is to encourage our young parents to think about and know their options, both for continuing education and employment leading them into self-sufficiency.
In NYC, more than half the children live in families that struggle to meet their most basic needs for food, housing, diapers, and medical care. They are economically vulnerable and face numerous hardships so toys are a costly expense for these young families. Because of Second Chance Toys, we are able to remind the struggling families of how much the community cares and supports them. The Second Chance Toys donations make a difference in the lives of their children and show the true meaning of love and kindness.
We thank SCT for the generous donations and valued partnership. They have been a blessing to our organization.
- Project SEEYM
I happened upon Second Chance Toys through VolunteerMatch.com earlier this year. I was a (semi) new stay-at-home-mom looking for a way to volunteer my time during my son’s naptime, and also satisfy my growing itch to get back to work. I started to look for opportunities locally—I live near Detroit, so there are certainly plenty of places that need the help. But I found that many organizations needed someone in their office, or were looking for someone to work too many hours a week so I started to look for opportunities nationwide.
I was lucky enough to find Second Chance Toys right away when I added the word “toy” to my VolunteerMatch search. I worked in PR for toy companies before I had my son so that seemed like a natural fit. Looking back, I can’t really imagine a better fitting organization for me. Helping kids, saving plastic from the landfills, and if I were to start my own collection (which I intend on doing) I’ll be able to deliver toys to in-need organizations in Detroit. Win-win-win!
If you’re reading this and have thought about volunteering, I encourage you to do it. You don’t have to organize a collection to help. If you’ve got a particular skill or connection that you think would be beneficial to Second Chance Toys, let them know. I put the last two newsletters together and have been conducting and writing interviews for the newsletter. There were all sorts of things I could’ve helped with, but given my background, the newsletter was right up my alley. Speaking with the amazing volunteers and toy recipients has been inspiring and very rewarding. It’s so nice to be able to put an hour of time in here and there and still be able to contribute and help out such a great cause.
If you’re like me and want to make a difference but don’t have any toys to donate, reach out today. Maybe there’s something that’ll be a perfect match for you, just like it was for me!
Author: Kaitlin Bevins, SCT Volunteer and Super Mom
It really is the little things that make the biggest impact.
Second Chance Toys received a surprise package from one of our recipient Head Start locations in Pennsylvania yesterday. We weren’t exactly sure what we would find inside, but we were pleasantly surprised!
The children who received toy donations over Earth Week from Kohl's Cares sent us their artwork under the title “Playing with my new toy”. The bright colors and excitement that their crayons brought to life was better than anything else we could have received.
Thank you for sharing your joy and creativity with us. We are proudly displaying your drawings as an adorable daily reminder of why we do what we do
Scroll down for a few samples from these mini Picassos.
Earlier this year, we kicked off our “Beginnings” campaign that celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit we share with our customers by showcasing innovative companies that have grown from humble beginnings into some of America’s most iconic brands.
Aussie Cheryl Staddon’s journey with Second Chance Toys began with a simple google search. “Donate recycled plastic toys.” Through that search, Cheryl discovered exactly what she was looking for; but it was halfway around the world.
Much like Second Chance Toys’ founder, Sasha Lipton, Cheryl was dismayed to see so many perfectly good toys being thrown out. During Sydney’s bi-annual Council Clean-Up days, Cheryl would see plastic toys being discarded on curbs. She often stopped to pick up the toys she knew shouldn’t be scrapped. But once she had the toys, she wasn’t always sure what to do with them. Her trips to drop off toys at St. Vincent De Paul were plentiful, but it didn’t always sit well with her that the toys were resold. She was sure that there were organizations or even individuals that would welcome toy donations. That’s where google came in.
After stumbling upon Second Chance Toys, she emailed SCT Exec. Director Bronna Lipton. A few emails later, Cheryl had decided to start her own “branch” of Second Chance Toys in Australia. That was in 2010. Since that time Second Chance Toys Australia has collected and distributed 18,000 toys in the Sydney area. Just last year, they became incorporated and now have Deductible Gift Recipient (GDR) status. SCT Australia’s new status has allowed for exciting corporate partnerships, including one with the Quantas foundation, and increased donations.
To date, organizations from all over the sprawling state of New South Wales have received toys. That included donations to the community of Dubbo, over 5 hours from Sydney, which experienced devastating flooding in Dec. of 2010. After a flood or fire, toys certainly aren’t the first thing people replace, but they’re an important aspect of making children feel comfortable in their new surroundings. SCT Australia was happy to be able to provide that comfort to many families in the Dubbo area.
In 2014, a big initiative for SCT Australia is to secure a transport partner to make distributing toy donations in far-flung regions of NSW and the rest of Australia more feasible. In some cases when an individual makes a toy request, Cheryl hand-picks and hand-delivers the toys to that person. While that’s an incredible feat and effort by Cheryl, a distribution partner similar to what SCT US has in 1-800-GOT-JUNK? would afford SCT Australia greater opportunity to reach more families and organizations in need of toys.
When it comes to colleting toys, Cheryl has had great success with a standing drop-off location in suburban Sydney. They also have many annual volunteer-lead drives. Its largest drive takes place on International Mitzvah Day and is run through the local organization “Kids Giving Back.” Normally held in mid-November, last year’s drive consisted of six drop-off locations and thousands of collected toys.
Some of the toys collected through the Mitzvah Day drives will go to the families of students from Fairfield High School. This school has one of the highest representations of refugees in the country. Refugees are a hot-button and controversial topic in Australia, and the families often have trouble assimilating. In one of Cheryl’s personal favorite events to attend, toys are donated to the families who participate in the high school’s English Club to get further assimilated. Though they don’t celebrate Hanukkah or Christmas, children often felt left out and further removed in December when they saw their classmates with new toys. Cheryl explained that the excitement on the children’s faces is contagious.
Hopefully SCT Australia will be able to provide even more smiles this year. If they could secure a transport partner and couple that with ever-increasing toy donations, 2014 is poised to be an excellent year. And though she didn’t quite know what she was getting into four years ago, she’s happy that she did it. Cheryl’s advice for anyone interested in starting their own drive, or even “branch” of SCT? “If you’ve got a passion for the environment and helping kids, it’s the perfect combination. Go for it.”
You can read much more about SCT Australia online at www.secondchancetoys.com.au
We are fortunate to partner with companies like Kohl’s, Kidville, 1-800-Got-Junk?, Viacom, and Johnson & Johnson. Recently, we were the fortunate recipient of a grant from Kohl’s to continue our mission. Thank you, Kohl’s! As we continue to grow, corporate sponsorship and grants are key factors in helping more children across the country and minimizing plastic waste.
Nearly 14 million children in the United States – 22% of all children – live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level – $22,050 a year for a family of four. Just by donating a gently used plastic toy, you can make a world of difference in the life of a disadvantaged child and at the same time help keep non biodegradable plastics out of our landfills.
Exciting news, this week we formalized the creation of an Environmental Committee. As chair of the committee, I’m working on building out the team and aligning folks to work on the charter. We want to tell a more complete story by working on a closed loop for plastic toy recycling. Full Article
This Earth Week, with the help of Kohl’s Cares, Viacom, 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, Kidville, Johnson & Johnson and our dedicated volunteers, Second Chance Toys collected and donated 15,222 toys raising our total toy tally to: 185,708 donated to date!
It was an exciting day in New York City for Viacommunity Day 2014! Over 100 Viacom associates volunteered to spend the morning cleaning, tagging and bagging over 1,000 gently used plastic toy donations that were collected at NYC Kidville locations in partnership with Second Chance toys.
The energy could be felt from everyone as the Viacom team enjoyed the music playing from the DJ booth and danced from table to table making sure that not one toy was overlooked.
Official SCT Ambassador and NY Giant, Steve Weatherford , along with his teammate, Damontre Moore, were also in attendance to support the initiative and help with all of the toy donations. The two Giants took some group photos and signed footballs for the Viacom volunteers as a quick break from all of their hard work.
1-800-GOT-JUNK? joined the party and made the final toy deliveries around the city so that hundreds of local kids in need could enjoy their shiny new gifts.
The entire event was a perfect display of the dedication that comes with every Viacommunity Day and all of the exceptional volunteers who make it happen.
SCT Founder, Sasha Lipton, shares her story of how she turned a childhood vision into a thriving nonprofit.
It takes time, a lot of dedication, and a ton of ‘care’ to accomplish what the Kohl’s Cares team did this Earth Week.
Over 500 Kohl’s associates from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware volunteered with Second Chance Toys for the fifth annual Kohl’s Cares Go Green event and the results were outstanding.
The volunteers joined Second Chance Toys at the Delaware Children's Museum for a toy drive and Family Fun Day celebration. After the dancing, popcorn, face painting, and museum exploration concluded, over 7,500 toys collected by Kohl's associates were distributed to organizations serving kids in need across the 3 states by our amazing partners at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. Instead of winding up in a landfill, those toys found themselves in the hands of their new recipients by sundown.
Brother Miguel Ramirez was in attendance representing one of the recipient organizations and offered to say a few words about what the toy donations mean to him, his organization, and the children;
“The fact that these toys are not only going to be benefiting the children, but that they are also being saved from the landfills, is just amazing. The children always run up to me and ask when we will be getting toy donations for them to play with and I always tell them that I hope we will be receiving donations soon. Because of you, I’ll be able to hand these toys out to those children, some of who live in our shelters, and they will be so happy to have something to call their own."
It was an amazing day and we look forward to working with Kohl’s Cares again to do even more good for the environment and for the very deserving little ones who need it the most.
Hundreds of dedicated Johnson & Johnson associates in New Jersey and Pennsylvania volunteered with Second Chance Toys as part of their exciting Earth Day celebration.
Close to 800 plastic toys were saved from the landfills and donated as a part of this eco-friendly initiative. On top of benefiting our Earth, the toys were delivered by our friends at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? to a handful of local recipient organizations serving disadvantaged kids.
The event also coincided with J&J’s ‘Bring Your Child to Work Day’, so Second Chance Toys was able to host an educational workshop with the associate’s children to teach them exactly how much their efforts are benefiting the environment and the new owners of their toy donations.
It was a great effort by everyone involved at Johnson & Johnson. Thank you for making it a big success!
Kohl’s Cares associates from all over New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware will be volunteering with Second Chance toys for the annual Kohl's Cares National Go Green event on April 26th. Over 300 Kohl’s associates will gather at the Delaware Children's Museum for a toy drive and celebration to benefit local underprivileged children.
You are invited to join Kohl’s Cares and Second Chance Toys for a day of family fun! There will be a DJ, dancing, popcorn, face painting, and indoor/outdoor actives including the opportunity to explore the museum. The event runs from 10am to 1pm and we are expecting close to 5,000 toys so be sure to bring your outgrown gently used plastic toy donations to help kids and the environment this Earth Week.
This idea may seem recycled, but it can't be said enough: This is the only planet we have, and we have to take care of it. Everyone can pitch in and the time to get kids into the habit is when they're young. Like putting on their seatbelts every time they get in a car, there are a few simple things they can do to protect the Earth's future, and in reality, their own.
- Prevent trash! Sooner or later, we're going to run out of places to bury our garbage. It's not like landfills are invisible either. Like cell phone towers conspicuously covered with evergreen branches sticking out like a sore thumb over area highways, landfills are obvious. Even the grass covering on top of the big mound of our waste hidden beneath doesn't disguise what it truly is. Teach kids to reuse bags, use those fabric bags many stores sell (and some give away), and recycle plastic and paper bags. Print only what's necessary from the computer. Donating items that can be used and enjoyed by someone else. Don't buy as much to being with.
- Save water! Use cloth towels, real silverware, and regular dinner plates. Wash them by hand, turning on the water only to wet dirty and rinse clean dishes or running a full dishwasher load (early or late in the day when electricity demand is lower). Turn off the water when brushing teeth and wash fuller loads of laundry. Hang clothes out to dry (within limits -- ok, neighborhood associations?) or use an energy-saving dryer (and don't fluff five times to de-wrinkle things before finally getting them out and folding them).
- Sort items for recycling or, if you live in a township that combines items, just recycle! It's just as easy to put items in the recycle bin as the trash can, yes? Do what I do with smaller plastic bottles -- pretend you're on the 76ers and toss the item like a basketball hoping to get it into the box for 2 points!
- Grow something! Grow an herb garden (they come in boxes at craft, home, and home improvement stores). Grow tomatoes (see previous note about stores). Grow flowers, which help keep bees going which help to keep our food supply going (it's all connected, people!). Or plant a tree -- for the beauty of it, in memory of someone, because it's a good thing for the environment, because it's fun.
There are so many ways we all can help the world and protect it for future generations. For the young ones and for the young at heart not yet participating in this endeavor which helps us all, the time to plant the seed is now.
Author: Tara Lynn Johnson, Philadelphia-region freelance writer
The 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and Second Chance Toys Earth Week Toy Collection was a big success!
Close to 700 gently used plastic toys were collected and donated to disadvantaged kids all around New Jersey. Thanks to the time and effort put in by the 1-800-GOT-JUNK? team, those donated toys will play an important role in their new recipient’s development and will help with their creativity, imagination and socialization.
A BIG thank you to 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and to everyone who donated their toys!
1-800-GOT-JUNK? is teaming up with Second Chance Toys to collect gently used plastic toys all around New Jersey on Saturday April 12th and Sunday April 13th.
Stop by a drop-off location near you and donate your outgrown gently used plastic toys so they can be donated to disadvantaged children in your community. As a special thanks for your toy donations, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? would like to offer you $35 off your next junk removal to help you finish your spring cleaning! Just look for the big blue 1-800-GOT-JUNK? truck at one of the 7 locations below.
*You can find these and all other Earth Week drop-off locations by clicking here.
Please remember, all donated toys must be: plastic, clean, no small or missing parts and come with working batteries.
Saturday April 12th – 10am to 1pm
Annunciation Church – truck will be parked in school parking lot 10am-1pm
601 West Browning Lane Bellmawr, NJ 08031
Sunday April 13th
Cherry Hill Fire Station 10am-1pm
1100 Marlkress Road Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
Park Plaza Shopping Center 10am-1pm
590 Park Avenue Freehold, NJ 08550
Morris Township's Woodland Fire Station 10am-1pm
20 Dwyer Lane Morris Township, NJ 07960 (Morristown if using GPS)
Doc's Furniture Mart 10am-1pm
881 Black Horse Pike Pleasantville, NJ 08232
Little Rocky Hill Volunteer Fire Company Station 41 12pm-3pm
4348 Route 27 Princeton, NJ 08540
Teaneck Community Police Station – truck will be parked in adjacent library parking lot 10am-1pm
900 Teaneck Road Teaneck, NJ 07666
It's that time of year again! The Kidville Spring Toy 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 outgrown gently used plastic toys to a Kidville location near you May 9th-15th. Help us help kids and the environment!
People are drawn to Second Chance Toys for different reasons. For Jim Sullivan, it was the eco-friendly side that initially drew him in. He sits on the Go Green committee at his children’s elementary school, which is in charge of organizing an eco-focused and kid-friendly project each month. One month, someone mentioned Second Chance Toys in passing. Jim ran with the idea and soon a toy collection drive was underway.
In Jim’s thriving community of Trumbull, CT, discarded (and perfectly functional) plastic toys don’t sit in a landfill—they’re burned in an incinerator. That incinerator is located in nearby poverty-stricken Bridgeport, CT. Saving pollutants from entering the air and water was what drew Jim and the committee to Second Chance Toys in the first place. A secondary benefit was, of course, being able to help out a child in need.
When Jim dropped off his first-ever toy donation at The Community Closet, a resource for free household essentials for people in need in Bridgeport, he realized just how much the donations were needed. It was in the midst of the holiday season, and the shelves at The Community Closet were bare. “It was striking. You realize, here’s something that your kids or other kids are done with and getting rid of, but another parent will be over the moon that they’re getting something for their kids,” noted Jim.
Jim and the Go Green committee have held holiday toy drives for the past three years, and have easily collected over 1,000 toys. Last year alone, they collected close to 700. What strikes Jim about the toy drives is how it has brought his community together. Two state representatives made an appearance at last year’s drive, and he recalls multiple occasions of empty-nesters donating cash or brand new toys when they pass by the drive. These neighbors no longer have toys or kids at home, but they still feel compelled to help the cause.
The success and sense of community found at Jim’s drives has even inspired others to start their own drives. “The whole process is really easy. Parents love it because it gives them a chance to clear out unused toys. At the same time, they’re teaching kids a valuable lesson in giving and sharing with others. I’ve found that whatever effort you put into the drive, you’ll get out 100-fold or more on a personal level.” Jim went on to say that he sees himself continuing to host or help out with these drives long after his kids move on from the elementary school.
The recipient of around 1,000 toys to-date, La Casa de Don Pedro is the largest Hispanic community center and advocate in Newark, NJ. They provide a daily snack and dinner to the nearly 150 children ages 5-12 enrolled in its after school enrichment program. Children in the program can participate in a variety of activities--varying from homework assistance and tutoring to yoga and drama. Most importantly, La Casa de Don Pedro provides a safe place for them to unwind, have fun, and continue learning after school each day.
During the past three holiday seasons, La Casa de Don Pedro has received 300 toys from Second Chance Toys donations. “The kids don’t know what to play with first. It’s like Christmas morning to them. I just can’t express the excitement that’s on their faces when they see the toys,” explained program director, Hazel Dlugos. “They get the opportunity through these donations to explore toys and concepts that they may not see anywhere else.” Examples include an abacus for math, working binoculars, a pretend camera, kaleidoscopes, and even a record player—something that left the kids completely puzzled and fascinated!
Other toys that are a huge hit with the children are play kitchens, a pretend vet clinic, and a grill set. A big-ticket item like a $100-$150 play kitchen wouldn’t normally be in the budget. If they wanted to purchase something like that, they’d have to hold a fundraising event. Now, thanks to donations from Second Chance Toys, these high-fun and high-imagination toys come directly to them!
Another big perk of receiving a large quantity of toys is that La Casa de Don Pedro now has the ability to replace and refresh the toy collection when toys begin to show wear and tear throughout the year. The like-new toy donations keep the program’s toy collection feeling new and fun for the children in the after school program.
Donated toys that are intended for ages 5 and under go to one of La Casa de Don Pedro’s three early childhood centers. They’re also available to the younger siblings of children enrolled in the after school program, and to children of women seeking assistance in La Casa de Don Pedro’s domestic violence assistance program.
In addition to its impressive young child and youth programs, La Casa de Don Pedro stands as a community center for the primarily Hispanic north end of Newark. The organization works to advocate for and organize residents as well as provide domestic violence counseling, affordable housing options, HIV prevention and intervention services, immigration assistance, GED preparation and testing, and neighborhood revitalization.
Over the holidays I tried to teach my three year-old about charity. My attempt to instill a sense of giving and kindness was in part, motivated by my dislike of excess. I was also unsure whether or not my son would be too young to understand the concept, but thought that I’d at least try. After many conversations explaining the concept of gratitude, giving and receiving, we struck deal. For every toy that he would receive for Christmas, he would give one, but ideally two, away to a child in need.
“To Sunnyside?” he asked. “The happy one?” referencing the movie Toy Story 3 in which the characters found themselves mistakenly donated to a local daycare. The ‘happy one’ was a lively, friendly place after the deposition of the ruling dictator toy – a teddy bear. Not sure where this would lead, I responded yes, because the emotions and actions in the movie was something he was familiar with. “Or to Room to Grow?” he then asked, knowing that I work for this organization, but not entirely clear about exactly what we do and why. “Both in a way,” I replied. “Room to Grow is similar to Sunnyside, but many of the children do not have as many toys as you do.”
“Oh, that’s too bad,” one of his catch-phrases, “that makes me very sad.” And he then went through his toys, contemplating each and every one. After a while, we had a tidy sum of playthings: favorites that he wanted to share, toys for babies that he insisted his younger sister was ‘too old’ for, and others he barely touched. During the process, I both marveled at his ability to give and worried if I was expecting too much from a three-year old in discussing childhood poverty.
My son couldn’t understand why some children didn’t have toys and I couldn’t come up with an understandable explanation for poverty. And so I tried to tell him that even if we don’t know why, we could try to help. At Room to Grow, our mission is to enrich the lives of babies born into poverty, by providing parents with the tools and resources to become confident caretakers while coping with financial struggles. Second Chance Toys supports our efforts by working with the community to collect toys to distribute to children in need. And as I stumbled over my words and attempted to clarify why some people have things and some do not – and how others could help, he said, “That’s okay mommy. My toys can go to good Sunnyside and make other children happy.”
I’m still working on instilling charity and kindness in my children today. But as I think back on our afternoon sorting toys and my son’s idea of a ‘happy Sunnyside’ – this basic concept is something we can grasp and strive for together.
Author: Elaine Chow, Director of Communications and Community Relations