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Second Chance Toys: Sydney, Australia

Aussie Cheryl Staddon’s journey with Second Chance Toys began with a simple google search. “Donate recycled plastic toys.” Through that search, Cheryl discovered exactly what she was looking for; but it was halfway around the world.

Much like Second Chance Toys’ founder, Sasha Lipton, Cheryl was dismayed to see so many perfectly good toys being thrown out. During Sydney’s bi-annual Council Clean-Up days, Cheryl would see plastic toys being discarded on curbs. She often stopped to pick up the toys she knew shouldn’t be scrapped. But once she had the toys, she wasn’t always sure what to do with them. Her trips to drop off toys at St. Vincent De Paul were plentiful, but it didn’t always sit well with her that the toys were resold. She was sure that there were organizations or even individuals that would welcome toy donations. That’s where google came in.

After stumbling upon Second Chance Toys, she emailed SCT Exec. Director Bronna Lipton. A few emails later, Cheryl had decided to start her own “branch” of Second Chance Toys in Australia. That was in 2010. Since that time Second Chance Toys Australia has collected and distributed 18,000 toys in the Sydney area. Just last year, they became incorporated and now have Deductible Gift Recipient (GDR) status. SCT Australia’s new status has allowed for exciting corporate partnerships, including one with the Quantas foundation, and increased donations.

To date, organizations from all over the sprawling state of New South Wales have received toys. That included donations to the community of Dubbo, over 5 hours from Sydney, which experienced devastating flooding in Dec. of 2010. After a flood or fire, toys certainly aren’t the first thing people replace, but they’re an important aspect of making children feel comfortable in their new surroundings. SCT Australia was happy to be able to provide that comfort to many families in the Dubbo area.

In 2014, a big initiative for SCT Australia is to secure a transport partner to make distributing toy donations in far-flung regions of NSW and the rest of Australia more feasible. In some cases when an individual makes a toy request, Cheryl hand-picks and hand-delivers the toys to that person. While that’s an incredible feat and effort by Cheryl, a distribution partner similar to what SCT US has in 1-800-GOT-JUNK? would afford SCT Australia greater opportunity to reach more families and organizations in need of toys.

When it comes to colleting toys, Cheryl has had great success with a standing drop-off location in suburban Sydney. They also have many annual volunteer-lead drives. Its largest drive takes place on International Mitzvah Day and is run through the local organization “Kids Giving Back.” Normally held in mid-November, last year’s drive consisted of six drop-off locations and thousands of collected toys.

Some of the toys collected through the Mitzvah Day drives will go to the families of students from Fairfield High School. This school has one of the highest representations of refugees in the country. Refugees are a hot-button and controversial topic in Australia, and the families often have trouble assimilating. In one of Cheryl’s personal favorite events to attend, toys are donated to the families who participate in the high school’s English Club to get further assimilated. Though they don’t celebrate Hanukkah or Christmas, children often felt left out and further removed in December when they saw their classmates with new toys. Cheryl explained that the excitement on the children’s faces is contagious.

Hopefully SCT Australia will be able to provide even more smiles this year. If they could secure a transport partner and couple that with ever-increasing toy donations, 2014 is poised to be an excellent year. And though she didn’t quite know what she was getting into four years ago, she’s happy that she did it. Cheryl’s advice for anyone interested in starting their own drive, or even “branch” of SCT? “If you’ve got a passion for the environment and helping kids, it’s the perfect combination. Go for it.”

You can read much more about SCT Australia online at