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SCT Volunteer Spotlight: Jim Sullivan

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.