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Q&A with CHS Ventures’ Craig Scott

As the saying goes, it takes a village, and in the case of Second Chance Toys, that village is full of bright, energetic and talented people who make a difference. One of those people is Craig Scott, the Founder and CEO of CHS Ventures who also serves on SCT’s Board of Directors. Craig has been involved with our organization for more than eight years, making things happen throughout Pennsylvania and well beyond.

Craig – who was named CEO of the Year at the Philadelphia Business Journal Life Sciences Awards in 2010 – is not the only Scott involved with our organization. In fact, his whole family is actively involved.

How did you first find out about Second Chance Toys? 

CHS Ventures’ Craig Scott: My children and I started up Second Chance Toys in Pennsylvania in 2007. Kyle and Cara were young teenagers and we had seen what Sasha, Bronna and Shelly Lipton were starting to do with Second Chance Toys in New Jersey and thought “this is a fabulous idea.” We wanted to be part of it and thought we could make a big difference for the environment and for deserving kids in our hometown near Philadelphia.

What is it about the organization that keeps you such a loyal contributor? 

Craig: Second Chance Toys is a genuine labor of love for me. Our family has always been community-minded and we look for opportunities to help others in need. I thought the Second Chance Toys concept was brilliant. We help the environment by recycling gently-used plastic toys and keeping them out of the landfills. And then help less fortunate kids by donating these really great toys to them during Earth Week and the holiday season. As tough as life is for so many out there, our toys mean a lot to the kids and families we serve.

It touches me to see the result of our efforts, and I think we are imparting terrific life lessons all along the way from collecting the toys from those who have them to giving them away to those who need them. As a parent, it was really important to me that my children learned about being responsible to others. We need to take care of the Earth, and we need to take care of others who have less than we are lucky to have. I am loyal to Second Chance Toys because I believe in our mission and there is a lot more important work to be done!

Has the growth of Second Chance Toys surprised you?

Craig: The growth of Second Chance Toys has been astounding, but I am really not surprised that it has taken off the way that it has. My kids and I started this as a grassroots effort in Philadelphia out of the back of our family minivan. We would literally drive miles to pick up bags of toys from parents and grandparents whose kids had outgrown the toys or who were doing spring cleaning. Then, we would find organizations which served disadvantaged kids and organize a donation.

We gained a lot of local attention, momentum and support for our local efforts, and so many wonderful people and organizations have stepped up and pitched in to help Second Chance Toys grow. We’ve conducted toy drives with elementary schools, churches, synagogues, groups of boy and girl scouts, large corporate partners and even professional sports teams. 

Today, we are a growing 501(C)(3) charity, trying to raise money to expand our efforts across the country and across the world. We’ve already donated over 200,000 gently-used and recycled plastic toys to deserving kids across the country and in Australia, too!

Do you have a favorite memory related to the work you've done with Second Chance Toys? 

Craig: I have a lot of favorite Second Chance Toys memories. Some are big. Some are little. For example, we teamed up with the Philadelphia Phillies during Earth Week a few years ago for a promotion and all the fans were invited to donate their gently-used plastic toys to Second Chance Toys stations at Citizens Bank Park. Another time, we were covered by National Public Radio one Christmas season. Their story was broadcast on national radio on Christmas Day.  NPR told of how we collected toys through a youth group at a local church and we stored the hundreds of toys in my garage, later to be shined up and given away to low income children in North Philadelphia. My kids were interviewed for that story, so that was really fun.

But my most favorite memories were the smaller, more intimate ones. We used to support Trinidad Head Start in North Philadelphia. Year after year, we would show up for their holiday performance. All these cute little kids of every shape, size and color would perform songs and dances for their families, teachers and us. Then, each kid would have the chance to walk into a separate room to pick out a Second Chance Toy of their choice. And believe me, they tiptoed around that room like these toys were jewels at Tiffany’s. They were always so appreciative of this gesture of holiday love and it gets me, even now, to tell the story. It’s a beautiful thing. Trust me.

How can our readers help Second Chance Toys? 

Craig: Your readers can check us out and get involved with our cause via our website: I am on the Second Chance Toys Board of Directors, and we have written a strategic plan to support our future growth. We want to expand to major metropolitan areas across the country because that is where there are the most kids in need and the most environmental problems. We are hoping to find corporate sponsors in these cities to donate to our cause so that we can continue to expand our good work in their communities. Of course, we are also always looking to collect more great toys and identify more organizations serving disadvantaged children. It is really rewarding to be part of Second Chance Toys, whether you or your company are giving your time, your toys, your money or your ideas. So please get involved. Check us out. Give generously and tell your friends and families about us, too.  

Author: Darren Paltrowitz, Music & Media Licensing at Viacom