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SCT Recipient Spotlight: La Casa de Don Pedro

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.