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This Holiday Season we were so excited to welcome Temple Emanu-El of Manhattan to our network of toy collectors and volunteers. Read on for a reflection from the parent who led the toy collection initiative and to learn more about the meaningful inspiration for the Mitzvah project. 

                                                                                                   

This year at Temple Emanu-el Nursery School (TENS) in Manhattan, each class was asked to propose and execute a Mitzvah Project leading up to the holiday season.  A mitzvah, in its literal translation, means a commandment, however the term mitzvah has also come to express an act of human kindness or a good deed.  TENS Class 324, which consists of 18 children ages 4 & 5 yrs old, decided their Mitzvah Project would be to collect and donate their own personal gently used toys, and connected with Second Chance Toys whose initiative aligns perfectly with purpose of the class's project.  The mission for each child was to select toys of their own (plastic and in good condition) that they were open to donating, with the express purpose of giving those toys away to other children who don't have many (or even any) toys of their own.  The class genuinely understood the message of giving something of themselves (which to a 4-5 year old child can be a toy/toys they may have once treasured!) to children who don't have the opportunities that they have, and it became a meaningful, impactful and heartwarming project for these young kids.  Over the course of a couple of weeks, they each brought in the toys they selected from home to donate, showed each one to the class, some expressed why they chose to donate them, and excitedly marked off their personal number of donations on the class's collection chart, resulting in a total collection of 56 toys altogether.  The entire donation collection was then dropped off at one of SCT’s local NYC recipient organizations, whose mission is to provide programs and services for local residents with limited resources.  This young group of kids in Temple Emanu-el Nursery School Class 324 were so happy and proud of their efforts, and the understanding that they were giving other young children in their own city the opportunity to enjoy the toys that they themselves may have previously cherished.       

                                                                                         

 

Second Chance Toys is once again so honored to have been a part of Citi’s Global Community Day Reimagined campaign. Thanks to a great team of coordinators, including Reem Aliessa, Program Manager with Citi Volunteers, Sharon Den from the Citi NYC Green Team and Brianna Cano of RCano Events, Citi volunteers were invited to collect and donate gently-used plastic toys to make an impact starting on Earth Day. Over 350 toys were collected in-person at Citi’s headquarters in lower Manhattan and matched by Second Chance Toys to an accredited and matched recipient organization, Trippinz Care Inc of Bronx, NY. 

                                                                                                                                      

Citi has and continues to be an SCT Valued Supporter, helping us all year with hands-on and behind the scenes support in our mission to create a plastic toy circular economy. Citi has not only donated toys, but has provided funding and in the past has even sent volunteer teams to deep clean donated toys at our drop-off locations in New Jersey. Citi’s continued devotion to the environment and breaking the cycles of inequality makes this community one of our greatest assets. The Team at RCano Events is also no stranger to Second Chance Toys, and we greatly appreciate all of their efforts of time, patience, and one of the hottest commodities for toys, storage space!                                                                                                                                                    

The SCT accredited organization which is receiving these donations, Trippinz Care Inc. is a nonprofit group serving those living in need in the Bronx with basic necessities, namely clothing, coats, and kids items. Trippinz Care is a cornerstone of the community, helping countless families by providing some of the simple items that everyone deserves but to which they may not have access. 

Thank you to Citi for another wonderfully successful season of sustainable positive impacts! 

 

 

Paramount is no stranger to the Second Chance Toys waste-need solution. Through different names, places, and times, this community has stayed at the top of our list as one of the most enthusiastic and devoted groups in helping us create a plastic toy circular economy. Over the years through hands-on programming Paramount employees have volunteered with us to deep clean, sort, pack, as well as send in their own donations directly to SCT accredited recipient organizations.

                                                                                                                                    

The Second Chance Toys team was so excited to be invited once again this year for Paramount Community Day and for the chance to host a remote and far-reaching toy drive. On June 16, Paramount employees from across the country joined the Second Chance Toys team for a live video information session, conversation, and "virtual toy drive." Employees learned about the SCT mission, history, and operations and were instructed how they could donate their pre-loved plastic toys. Paramount generously underwrote shipping costs and employees were invited to pack up their gently-used outplayed toys and ship them off to Second Chance Toys Headquarters in New Jersey. Upon arrival at SCT HQ, our team will sort and get them ready for pick-up by 2 accredited social action organizations in Newark, NJ.

                                                                                                                   

 

 

 

Once again, AIG has joined forces with Second Chance Toys to hold a nationwide virtual toy drive. This initiative gave employees a sustainable way to repurpose plastic toys, saving them from landfills and putting them in the hands of refugee children whose families have resettled in Michigan. For the past couple of years,AIG has been one of our wonderful Valued Supporters, and we’re so happy to have the community on our team.   

                                                                                                                                                                           

This season’s toy drive was held in celebration of AIG’s Global Volunteer Month. SCT provided donation tips and information and invited employees to send outplayed plastic toys to an accredited SCT recipient organization. AIG generously underwrote shipping costs and ran multiple communication campaigns encouraging employees to participate. “Partnering with SCT again this year enabled more colleagues to support this incredible organization and cause. Employees had the opportunity to give their children’s toys a second home, thus helping those in need and our planet,” said Pamella Rodrigues, Director of Global Corporate Citizenship at AIG.                  

The matching organization for this toy drive was Hand Connected, the children’s program at the Refugee Education Center of Grand Rapids, MI, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, founded in 2006 by a group of Somali Bantu refugees, passionate about equal access to formal education. According to the center’s website, the group “...organized and created what is now the Refugee Education Center with the vision of supporting refugee children in West Michigan as they began their new education in a foreign land.”

We are proud to report that during Global Volunteer Month, AIG sent hundreds of beautiful preloved plastic toys directly to Grand Rapids where they will be used in classrooms and distributed to families that the center is helping to welcome to the Midwest, U.S.A. We are so honored to have AIG’s continued support both in front of and behind the scenes and their true devotion to the environment and kids in need.

                                                                                                                                                      

 

 

                                                                                                             

We’ve heard it time and again, plastic is bad. And yes, it is! Many of the amenities that we enjoy and tools that we use everyday rely on plastic, and though it has become integral to our society, plastic still continues to pose issues in terms of pollution, waste, and climate change. Single-use plastic products are some of the easiest to use and it is some of the cheapest and most easily sourced materials in the world. Plastic shows up everywhere in our lives, whether it be part of our personal care products, food packaging, tools, or toys and games. Plastic water and soda bottles are durable, light, and pose no danger of broken glass. Plastic grocery store bags are impressively sturdy, weightless, and can be compressed down to take up barely any room when they aren’t in use. The issue arises, however, when we are done using these items; they are technically so easy to dispose of, but much of the time littering and irresponsible disposal takes place, whether on purpose or by accident. Littered plastic waste will inevitably seek the ocean. Out-of-sight and out-of-mind, right? Wrong. Plastic will never disappear and will just continue to accumulate, causing a multitude of issues on Earth. Plastic pollution1 contributes to some of the biggest challenges that face our environment today including adverse effects on human health, the vitality of marine ecosystems, and global climate change.

Second Chance Toys’ home State of New Jersey is taking an incredible stand against plastic pollution and the hold that single-use convenience has on consumers by banning plastic bags from grocery and convenience stores as well as restaurants. Starting on May 4 the state enacted the requirements and statutes for the majority of stores to cease distribution of disposable plastic bags. To be specific, this includes grocery stores, convenience stores, and even restaurants, and bottle shops (anywhere that you might really need a plastic bag). Same goes for single-use food containers made of styrofoam. Not to mention, this isn’t the first stand that the State of New Jersey has taken in the steps against climate change. For over 6 months plastic straws have been tougher to get your hands on! If you’d like a straw for your drink at the local coffee shop or convenience store, you’ll need to ask. 

Over the past month since the ban began, lots of New Jerseyans have been understandably annoyed, as would happen with any change in routine. But as a resilient and tough, yet caring and eco-conscious group, we’re becoming perfectly accustomed to the new ban and carrying our reusable bags with pride! Much to our delight, reusable and paper straws, as well as a huge variety of reusable bags are becoming more and more popular and accessible, thus changing the NJ lifestyle for the benefit of our state’s ecological health and biodiversity. We are so proud of our home state and commend the New Jersey legislature on this momentous shift towards a more sustainable state! 

 

#JerseyStrong

 
1To learn more about the threat of plastic pollution on Earth, we recommend this fact sheet “Marine Plastic Pollution” from the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

As the yearly celebration to protect the Earth approaches, so many people begin to contemplate how their families, and especially children, can safely learn how to make a positive lasting impact. Second Chance Toys makes it simple and easy to do good this year, especially with your younger Earthlings in mind! As a family, gather your outplayed gently-used plastic toys, along with those from your neighborhood or relatives. Decide which toys you haven’t touched in a while and which your family has outgrown. Once you have a total of 50 toys, register your collection with Second Chance Toys and we will match your toys with a local organization serving children in need.  

                                                                                                                  

Collecting and rehoming gently-used toys is a wonderful way to celebrate Earth Day for a few reasons. Consider that if outplayed toys were simply tossed in the garbage, they would end up in landfills. The plastic problem on Earth is one of the most challenging hazards facing our ecosystems because single-use as well as hard plastics are filling our landfills and covering our oceans. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), plastic is the most abundant type of marine litter, making up 80% of the debris found in the ocean. Marine animals suffer greatly from plastic pollution by inadvertently ingesting plastic or becoming entangled and helpless.       

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

In addition to the positive environmental effects, donating gently-used plastic toys benefits local kids in need! At Second Chance Toys we focus on our two greatest assets, our planet and our children, so by passing on your plastic toys we can together help provide fun and creativity to kids who may not have had toys otherwise. Once your kids have outgrown their younger toys, they can share with other kids and give their seal of approval for someone else to enjoy them!                                                                                                         

This cycle of toys also introduces the idea of circularity. As we adapt to a more circular economy and share our belongings, we even reduce the need for more plastic toys to be manufactured! 

We’ve come a long way as an environment-conscious nation since the first Earth Day in 1970, and though we continue to face many threats against our planet, there are still countless ways that we can protect it together! For more information on the Second Chance Toys Initiative, how to register your toy drive, and for collector resources, check out our homepage at www.secondchancetoys.org

 

As we reflect on the holiday season, we are so grateful for the honor to work together again with our friends at AIG and ViacomCBS. Though we’re still spending a good portion of our time together virtually, we are overjoyed that our supporters continue to recognize the value that a toy drive program brings to employees in terms of social responsibility, sustainability, and holiday giving. 

This year AIG expanded its support for our organization. Together we hosted a mail-in toy drive enabling employees anywhere in the country to give their children’s toys a second chance. AIG generously underwrote the shipping costs and ran multiple communication campaigns encouraging employees to participate. Hundreds of toys were sent to Second Chance Toys headquarters in New Jersey.

                                                                                                                                 

SCT stored the toys and since the turnout was so amazing, we were able to match and satisfy the need of toys for multiple organizations: the Oasis Christian Center in Rahway, NJ as well as the Creating Unity in the Community, a program serving low-income communities of Parkchester in the Bronx. A few reactive toys that light up, make noise, or move were culled and donated to Makers Making Change, NYC Chapter, for their adaptive toy hack-a-thon, a program serving kids with disabilities and varying types of motor skills throughout the city. MMC volunteers opened up the toys and added longer wires and buttons to the mechanisms. This program allows more kids to enjoy toys that they wouldn’t have been able to use otherwise. AIG provided all the toys that were donated for the first hack-a-thon, which took place in December. 

As well as the astounding volume of beautiful toys, AIG is supporting Second Chance Toys with a grant to help us continue to be able to provide such programs. We are so thankful for our AIG team and the partnership that we have in the fights against plastic waste and poverty!

                                                                                                                     

ViacomCBS is one of our longest running teammates. Over the years this group has prevented literal tons of plastic toys from seeing the eternal landfill and instead guided them into the creative hands of deserving kids. 

As part of this year’s Season of Giving Program Lineup, VCBS employees and families were invited to join the SCT team for a virtual discussion about our mission, the importance of reuse and recycling, and to learn how to prepare to donate toys themselves. VCBS generously covered the cost of shipping and SCT created a do-it-yourself (DIY) donation instruction sheet to be distributed electronically to even more participants across the country. The toys were sent to our nation’s capital for the Washington D.C. National Guard Family Program, which serves thousands of military families in the area. Adam Robinson, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at VCBS, and our friend and  partner in planning reflects: "Our employees were so happy to have an experience that taught their kids and families the importance of reuse and giving in a fun and personal way.

                                                                                                                     

In addition to the toys donated, devotion to the collection, and enthusiastic participants  who spread the word, ViacomCBS is awarding Second Chance Toys with a generous grant in support of our programming. We are so grateful to have ViacomCBS on our team and as always we are looking forward to our next collection together!

Second Chance Toys is so honored to have these dedicated change-makers on our team! Thank you to the AIG and ViacomCBS communities for your devotion to the mission to reduce plastic waste while helping children in need! We couldn’t do it without you!

 

Part of the heart of our mission of SCT is to help enrich the lives of children in need by providing the opportunity to play, so in order to broaden our reach in order to serve more kids, this year Second Chance Toys joined forces with the NYC chapter of Makers Making Change (MMC) to aid in launching their new event: Adaptive Toy Hackathons. 

Loreto Dumitrescu, a member of MMC in NYC, co-founder of Zero Day Camp in Brooklyn, and our partner in planning, describes that “Makers Making Change aims to connect makers, persons with disabilities, and disability professionals to break down access barriers to assistive technologies. Toy adapting is a way of modifying commercially available toys in a way that children with motor disabilities may activate them. Even the simplest toys are inaccessible for children with physical disabilities. These children often use custom switches to engage with devices such as tablets, communication systems, and environmental controls. By re-wiring and adding an auxiliary jack to the toy, children can then plug in their switch and play with toys they may not be able to otherwise.”

After connecting with Loreto and learning about the program we were sure that we wanted to join together and provide all gently-used toys! Since not all toys are adaptable, however, we culled reactive items that either move or dance, make noises and play music, or light up and flash to that additional connection and switches could be added. This way another group of kids can receive useful, appropriate toys, meanwhile, pounds of plastic avoids the landfill!

On December 12th, 2021 the NYC chapter of Makers Making Change ran its first ever adapted toy hackathon at MakerspaceNYC in Brooklyn, NY. Together Makers Making Chance and Second Chance Toys were able to collect and adapt 15 toys and distribute them to local organizations throughout the city. 

Volunteers from various organizations including The Henry Viscardi School, Adapt Community Network, High Technology High School, Zero Day Camp, as well as local makers and tinkerers lent a hand in the work, giving the toys an electronic makeover and a second chance! We all hope to grow this event and continue to host hackathons in the future; sharing the know-how of toy adapting to help engage all children in the magic of play.

Every year Second Chance Toys' expansive network of volunteers and supporters grows larger, and every year each individual proves to be priceless to our team in the missions against plastic waste and poverty. This past holiday season we were overjoyed to work with Kiera Dunlevy, a Manasquan High School Junior, who single-handedly coordinated a toy drive in her community. Kiera reached out directly to the SCT team to discuss her ideas and get some more information. She then registered for a recipient match and took off running! She created her own marketing, monitored donation intake for quality and volume, and transported the toys to their final destination, The Boys and Girls Clubs of Monmouth County. Here’s how Kiera reflects on her experience:

“I chose to do a SCT toy drive for my NHS (National Honor Society) project because I loved how it combined giving back to local families for the holiday season with helping save the environment. I wasn't sure what to expect at the beginning, but I received immediate responses from local families eager to contribute to the drive when I posted my flier, many telling me how they hate just throwing perfectly good toys away. I had originally estimated getting about 50 toys but ended up getting over double that! Although it was for sure a time commitment, the general process of setting up the drive and collecting donations was pretty easy and definitely worth it. I'm glad I heard about SCT because I'm passionate about helping the environment, and it was quite eye opening seeing how much plastic may have otherwise ended up in a landfill.”

Kiera showed such superb creativity and devotion to her toy collection and we are thrilled to announce that over 100 gently-used plastic toys were donated (well over the initial estimate)! Efforts like these by high school students especially remind us of our roots and warm our hearts because SCT was founded by a teenager with a dream! The Second Chance Toys team applauds Kiera and all local teens who take on leadership roles to make a positive impact on their communities and our Earth!