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In 2013 Danaya Dickson gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Dakoda. Like every mom, she wanted the best for her child, but it was difficult for her to make ends meet. So when Christmas rolled around that year, and for the next 2 years after that, Danaya was not able to provide her daughter with any gifts that were directly from her. Fortunately her extended family provided some gifts of their own.

This past Christmas was happily different! This year, Ms. Dickson was able to pick out several good-as-new plastic toys that were donated from Second Chance Toys to Babyland Family Services. Mr. Richard Whitten, director of Babyland Family Services, stated, “We had so many people from the community asking us for toys this year. If it were not for Second Chance Toys, we would have been in a pinch."

Among the toys Ms. Dickson selected for Dakoda, were a plastic alligator piano, a Lego block set, and a tea set. She is excited to use all of the toys to play and interact with her daughter. Danaya mentioned that she wants to put numbers and the letters of the alphabet on the Lego blocks, to help begin teaching her young child.

After the toys were picked out, they were wrapped up, and for the first time, Danaya Dickson was able to proudly put her own name on these precious gifts for her daughter. This was a happy holilday indeed!

As you can see from the photo, Edgemont Montessori School, Montclair, NJ amassed more than the 50 toys they originally thought they would collect. Montclair Child Development Center was the beneficiary of these good-as-new plastic toys. Dory Hack commented, "We thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity for Edgemont students to think about others' needs. Looking forward to doing it again next year!"


For a sixth consecutive year, Tashua Elementary School in Trumbull, CT collected toys for those in need. As a result of their time and energy, 300 beautiful plastic toys were donated to Community Closet in Bridgeport. Thank you Jim Sullivan and all the students at Tashua for your consistent donations year after year!!

NYC Department of Sanitation Commissioner, Kathryn Garcia, gave her support at Operation Toy Drive NYC's kick-off. As a part of the drive, Kidville collected and cleaned all the toys, Uber provided a day of free pickups, and 1-800-GOT-JUNK? delivered over 1,000 donated toys to organizations throughout NYC--toys that were saved from a trip to a landfill. All in all, it was a great team effort!

​NYC Dept. of Sanitation Commissioner, Kathryn Garcia, at the kick-off

​Operation Toy Drive NYC Team: L-R Raquel Rosenberg - Uber, Rammy Harwood- Kidiville,

Bronna Lipton-SCT, Ed Veloz and Domingo Rodriguez - 1-800-GOT-JUNK?

​Picking out toys collected during Operation Toy Drive NYC

​Toy donation, including the 250,000th toy donated, at Babyland Family Services, Inc. in Newark, NJ

Who would have ever thought that when Sasha Lipton began collecting toys back in 2006, and donated them to Babyland Family Services in Newark, that 10 years later Babyland would receive the 250,000th toy donated by Second Chance Toys!!

It started as a labor of love in 2006, when Sasha noticed all the colorful good-as-new plastic toys being tossed at the curb in her neighborhood. She not only wanted to help kids who were less fortunate, but realized the unnecessary waste headed for our landfills.

It was not easy getting the first organization to accept toys from a cold call by a high school student. Thank you Babyland Family Services for accepting our very first donation, recognizing the need we were fulfilling and giving us the conviction that this idea could take hold.

On this milestone donation of our 250,000th toy, a special thank you goes out to our amazing volunteers holding collections everywhere, and to 1-800- GOT-JUNK? that has volunteered time, trucks and manpower to pick up and deliver all of our large collections. Thank you for believing enough in our mission to give of your time to move us forward and help us grow.

Remaining toys being unloaded from the 1-800-GOT-JUNK? truck 

Video here:

Second Chance Toys' Bronna Lipton stopped in to chat with Awestruck's #MomsWithAttitude, Snooki and JWOWW, about their toy collection and to explain how Second Chance Toys works. They also helped us celebrate our 250,000th donated toy!! Thanks to 1-800-GOT-JUNK? for transporting the toys! 

This year we were happy to add Bright Beginnings Queens Village to our list of volunteers that collected toys for us....and they did a wonderful job!! Second Chance Toys matched them up with the National Association of University Women, who were distributing all kinds of goods to four different shelters in Queens including Acacia Network in Corona Shelter, LaGuardia Family Center, Camba The Landing, and Kings Inn. Thanks to Bright Beginnings, NAUW was able to include these beautiful good-as-new toys for the young children at the shelters and brighten the holidays. A great effort by all!!!

Some of the 500+ gently used plastic toys collected annually by Downingtown Area School District in PA. Thanks to 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, these toys are now in the hands of deserving children in the area!! Thank you, Downingtown Area School District, for your continued support!

Dentist Dr. Mariana Blagoev, in Parlin, NJ, is organizing a toy drive this holiday season that will surely put smiles on the faces of some deserving children in her community. In an effort to give back to the community, Blagoev is sponsoring a toy drive to make a difference in a child’s life during the holiday season. 

Blagoev is encouraging the public to drop off new, unwrapped or lightly used toys at her office, Bright Smiles Dental, 1145 Bordentown Ave. in Parlin, NJ. Toy drop-off dates are now through Wednesday, Dec. 21, during office hours. All of the collected toys will be donated to Second Chance Toys. 

“In a troubled economy that affects many Americans, the spirit of giving to others is needed more than ever,” Blagoev said in a news release. Individuals that participate in the toy drive will receive a free dental check-up, complete with an exam and X-rays. This way, locals get to help the needy while improving their own dental health. Blagoev is passionate about improving the lives of those in her community. She has also mobilized the community through charitable activities in the past, including food drives and other events.

Kidville was a integral part of making our Operation Toy Drive NYC such a success. They once again opened their facilities for drop-offs of over 1,000 toys (!), and in appreciation we presented a Certificate of Appreciation to each of the six Kidville locations in Manhattan that participated this year. Thank you, Kidville, for your continued support of Second Chance Toys!

Jill, a mom in Manhattan, drops off toys at Kidville

Carmen at Kidville Upper West Side

Brittany at Kidville Upper East Side

Naomi at Kidville Financial District

Bong at Kidville Murray Hill

Raffy, Mark, Mikayla, and Leona at Kidville Union Square

Ellen at Midtown West

Toys were collected and donated from PS6 students, family and friends grades PreK-5 in Staten Island. They collected race tracks, robots, dolls, action figures, dinosaurs, carriages, puzzles, plastic blocks, musical instruments, and play sets. Everyone had fun with the collection which was organized by PS 6 teacher, Eileen Loughran. These colorful toys were donated to the Jewish Renaissance Foundation for their breakfast with Santa toy giveaway in Perth Amboy. Thank you PS 6 for a job well done!!


McGinn Elementary School in Scotch Plains, NJ collected 824 beautiful toys during their gently used plastic toy collection. The fourth graders, pictured here, had so much fun helping to clean and inspect the toys and the school was able to activate firsthand the life lessons of giving and recycling for all the students who donated so generously. Thanks to PTA mom, Kelly Sacchetti, for organizing the entire drive. The toys went to Community Coordinated Childcare Agency in Rahway, NJ.  Bravo to everyone for an amazing collection and bringing so much happiness to those in need!!

Last month, I had the honor of co-leading my daughter’s Daisies troop as they earned two badges – the Clove “Use Resources Wisely” badge and the Rosie “Make the World a Better Place” badge. In planning for the event, my co-leader and I agreed that we wanted the girls to have a hands-on experience with these themes; not just hear about them, but actually experience them. So, we set up a tour at a local nature center. But still, we wanted more for the girls to actively experience in terms of using resources wisely and making the world a better place. That’s where Second Chance Toys (SCT) came into play (pun intended). By asking each of our Daisies to donate one or more of their lightly used plastic toys to a child in need, we married the themes of the Rosie and Clove badges. 

The Daisies were not only willing, but also excited to share their toys. In fact, one girl who forgot to bring her toy insisted that she bring it to my house the next day. They were determined to help re-use their toys and bring joy to children less fortunate. That sure sounds like wise resource management and making the world a better place to me! 

I encourage other Daisies and the broader Girl Scout community to follow our lead. A Second Chance Toys collection is an easy add-on to your next troop meeting. Or perhaps you want to go bigger and plan an event around the December holidays or around Earth Day, engaging your local schools and other community organizations. Regardless, it’s a worthwhile undertaking. If you’re not sure you have the time or you’re wondering how to get started, please see tips from my previous blog:

and from other SCT collectors:

P.S. Apparently, this works for the Eagle Scouts too!

-Sherry Marin Altman, SCT Volunteer

People are inspired to volunteer and work with Second Chance Toys for a variety of reasons. Today we hear from one of our Board Members, Leslie Leventman, on what makes working with children in need so important to her:

As the holidays approach, with all the beautiful imagery and sounds of the season, I reach back to my childhood memories.  I have indelible memories of the lessons that my mother taught me. She always said that “giving is its own reward.” 
My mother was such a kind and caring individual. She was a product of the Great Depression and a member of the World War II Generation, who used ration coupons for food. My mother often spoke to me about those very difficult years and what it was like living in poverty. It was a painful reflection for her -- even in her early 90's. Fortunately, she had a very loving and close knit family, and together they weathered those extremely difficult years.
Despite her family hardships, my mother always knew how fortunate she was to have a doll and a pair of roller-skates as a child, and to experience the joy that these toys brought to her life. These two toys gave her childhood meaning, expression, creativity and room to dream. In fact, she might have missed out on all of those joyful times without them. However, she never forgot the meaning of those toys her entire life. This, I believe, ultimately led her to pursue a career in social service. As an adult, my mother became a social worker helping people in need. During the holidays my mother and her co-workers made baskets for the less fortunate, and delivered them to the neediest families. The focus of our holidays, as a family, was always to help those in need, and to “give back” to the best of your ability.   
This is why the mission of Second Chance Toys resonates so deeply with me, and why I am a member of its Board. The mission of Second Chance Toys is to help a child in need feel important and cared for, by providing toys that will allow them to be children. To dream, to play, and be in the moment of learning and wonder! Toys are so critical to a child's development. By giving a toy to a child, you are providing that child unbridled joy, a learning tool, and sweet memories-- all in one. And this is a blessing which will surely last a lifetime. 
My mother, Gladys Leventman, passed away this past March, at the age of 92. I will always honor and cherish her memory by remembering the needs of children who are less fortunate, by putting a smile on their faces with a joyful holiday toy.
Best wishes to all for a wonderful holiday season!

This holiday season, Uber, in conjunction with Kidville and 1-800- GOT-JUNK?, will make it easier than ever to donate gently-used plastic toys in the 5 boroughs of NYC and in Hudson and Union Counties in NJ. On Saturday, December 10th, from 10am-4pm, with the tap of a button, a driver will pick up your gently-used plastic toys and deliver them FREE to one of the 6 Kidville locations throughout Manhattan. There, the toys will be cleaned and prepared for pickup by 1-800- GOT-JUNK? who will transport the toys to local organizations that serve children in need.

In the NY Metropolitan area alone, Second Chance Toys has requests for over 40,000 toys. "We are happy to provide this free service that will not only make it simple for parents to donate their toys, but it will encourage many more toys to be donated for all the deserving children this holiday,” stated Raquel Rosenberg, Marketing Manager at Uber. Toys will be inspected for parts and cleaned by families and volunteers on Sunday, December 11th at 6 Kidville locations around Manhattan. Rammy Harwood, President of Kidville, stated, “We are thrilled to offer this opportunity to our parents and children so they can experience firsthand the life lessons of community service and giving back."

On Monday, December 12th, a mere 48 hours later, the toys will be picked up by 1-800- GOT-JUNK? and transported to multiple organizations throughout the city. “I can’t think of a better way to give back during the holidays than by delivering thousands of toys and putting smiles on the faces of as many children,” added Cameron Robinson, General Manager, 1-800- GOT-JUNK?. 

They say it takes a village, and Operation Toy Drive NYC, powered by Uber, will be demonstrating just that this December! Start gathering your toys!!

In our last Toy Tales story we hear again from Elva Guevara, the Executive Director of United Yes We Can- Unidos Si Se Puede.

This Toy Tale is about a young girl named Luz, a special needs child, who received a musical princess table from Second Chance Toys. Upon receiving the toy, Luz had tears running down her face and said that it was the “biggest and prettiest gift” she ever received. This was a very special moment for her that day, and the table continues to have special meaning. Several weeks later, her mother, Onesima, expressed her own joy to me personally. When Luz has an anxiety attack, her mom discovered that her daughter starts to calm down when seated at her princess table and she begins to play. This toy has truly been a blessing for them both.

Toys are more important than meets the eye. We are so grateful for Second Chance Toys and look forward to their generosity this holiday season as well.


In the last two Toy Tales stories we hear directly from Elva Guevara, the Executive Director of United Yes We Can- Unidos Si Se Puede. Guevara's organization offers basic services and education to low income families in East Harlem, NY. Each recipient organization that Second Chance Toys works with uses donated toys in a variety of ways, including keeping them on-site or sending toys home with the children. Below is a heart-warming story of one child who was so taken with a toy, there was no choice but to send it home with her-- she literally would not let it go!

The plastic carriage that Amy is clinging to in this photo meant so much to her. In fact, she would not let go of it during the entire party in which we gave out all of the hundreds of toys donated by Second Chance Toys. She wanted this more than anything and was not quite sure it could still be hers if she let go. Many of our families in East Harlem, NY struggle to pay for the basics. A single toy can be very special to those that do not have any of their own. Finally, when it was time for Amy to leave, her mom could not get her to take her hands off the carriage to put on her coat. Everyone had a good laugh watching her mom pick her up as she clung tightly to the carriage, then wrapped her coat around her, in order to get her home!! -Elva Guevara, the Executive Director of United Yes We Can- Unidos Si Se Puede

Part two in a new series from Second Chance Toys on the impact that donated toys have on the children who recieve them

Welcome our series of articles and shared stories that follow what happens to your toys after you drop them off. In each story, we'll share how a toy donation has directly and positively impacted the life of a child. We share these just as our holiday toy donations begin, with the hope that these stories provide some inspiration for giving and also a greater appreciation for the importance of toys.

As Jinnea turned the key and pushed the door open, she could still smell the new paint on the wall. It made her smile and remember just how far she had come. Her new apartment was in the same neighborhood she grew up in, yet it was worlds apart from the poverty she had once lived in. It was also a five minute walk from the Head Start Homeless Shelter she and her two sons once called home. 

Like her two boys, Zyon and Amari, Jinnea had grown up in a broken home herself. But she was lucky enough to have two very loving grandparents who helped her get off the welfare system and find a job. She started in a low paying entry level position and was quickly promoted to administrative assistant working with adults with intellectual and physical disabilities.  Jinnea is now working towards a degree in human services with a concentration in counseling – and she plans to graduate in May. She is so proud to have pulled herself up by her bootstraps to raise her boys in a better environment.

Gateway Community Head Start nurtured Jinnea’s kids while she was getting her feet on the ground. Zyon and Amari, went through the education and enrichment programs for preschoolers – and Jinnea is certain it gave the boys the positive start they needed -especially for her youngest, who is developmentally delayed. Jinnea can remember one particular breakthrough day for Armari. It was the day Second Chance Toys delivered gently used plastic toys to the children at Head Start; Amari received a plastic train from SCT. And through various play exercises with his new train, Amari’s teacher was able to pull him out of his shell and help him advance his speech and socialization. Jinnea and his educators still marvel at the fact that a plastic train held the key to unlock her son’s development. Helping kids and the environment… one toy at a time.

Part one in a new series from Second Chance Toys on the impact that donated toys have on the children who recieve them

Welcome to a new series of articles and shared stories that follow what happens to your toys after you drop them off. In each story, we'll share how a toy donation has directly and positively impacted the life of a child. We share these just as our holiday toy donations begin, with the hope that these stories provide some inspiration for giving and also a greater appreciation for the importance of toys.

Anthony and his family had a holiday season they will never forget. It had been a year of great lows. First the family was forced to relocate to a more affordable apartment. Then after a serious health threat landed Anthony’s father in the hospital, things became desperate. The family – which includes Anthony, his parents and his eight siblings -- were forced to move into a transitional living center located in Newark, NJ. The New Community Harmony House, a shelter that provides families like Anthony’s with the support they need, became their new home.

The New Harmony House offered new hope for the family – and also great support in the areas of job and education assistance, and food and clothing. But for Anthony, one of the most cherished gifts this transitional housing facility gave him was hope for the future – through the eyes of a plastic dinosaur.

It happened one afternoon when Second Chance Toys paid Anthony and the other kids at Harmony a visit several days before Christmas. Anthony and his brothers and sisters expected nothing for the holidays. They knew their parents’ situation. But that afternoon, they were pleasantly surprised to receive good-as-new plastic toys, with small tags bearing a note from the previous owner wishing them well. Anthony was given a dinosaur, a yellow helicopter, and two big trucks, but it’s the toy dinosaur that impacted him most. It made him curious about the study of dinosaurs, which blossomed into a general interest in the sciences, which made Anthony decide that he himself wanted to be a scientist when he grew up. And once he became famous for his discoveries, he was going to buy his family a new house they could all live in together. His mother believes the toy not only had a special meaning for her son but it helped him in his social and educational development. For Anthony that dinosaur has given him inspiration and hope. 

Recycled love and a second chance. It’s magic.