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Hundreds of dedicated Johnson & Johnson associates in New Jersey and Pennsylvania volunteered with Second Chance Toys as part of their exciting Earth Day celebration. 

Close to 800 plastic toys were saved from the landfills and donated as a part of this eco-friendly initiative. On top of benefiting our Earth, the toys were delivered by our friends at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? to a handful of local recipient organizations serving disadvantaged kids.

The event also coincided with J&J’s ‘Bring Your Child to Work Day’, so Second Chance Toys was able to host an educational workshop with the associate’s children to teach them exactly how much their efforts are benefiting the environment and the new owners of their toy donations.

It was a great effort by everyone involved at Johnson & Johnson. Thank you for making it a big success! 

Kohl’s Cares associates from all over New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware will be volunteering with Second Chance toys for the annual Kohl's Cares National Go Green event on April 26th.  Over 300 Kohl’s associates will gather at the Delaware Children's Museum for a toy drive and celebration to benefit local underprivileged children.

You are invited to join Kohl’s Cares and Second Chance Toys for a day of family fun! There will be a DJ, dancing, popcorn, face painting, and indoor/outdoor actives including the opportunity to explore the museum. The event runs from 10am to 1pm and we are expecting close to 5,000 toys so be sure to bring your outgrown gently used plastic toy donations to help kids and the environment this Earth Week.

This idea may seem recycled, but it can't be said enough: This is the only planet we have, and we have to take care of it. Everyone can pitch in and the time to get kids into the habit is when they're young. Like putting on their seatbelts every time they get in a car, there are a few simple things they can do to protect the Earth's future, and in reality, their own.

  • Prevent trash! Sooner or later, we're going to run out of places to bury our garbage. It's not like landfills are invisible either. Like cell phone towers conspicuously covered with evergreen branches sticking out like a sore thumb over area highways, landfills are obvious. Even the grass covering on top of the big mound of our waste hidden beneath doesn't disguise what it truly is. Teach kids to reuse bags, use those fabric bags many stores sell (and some give away), and recycle plastic and paper bags. Print only what's necessary from the computer. Donating items that can be used and enjoyed by someone else. Don't buy as much to being with.
  • Save water! Use cloth towels, real silverware, and regular dinner plates. Wash them by hand, turning on the water only to wet dirty and rinse clean dishes or running a full dishwasher load (early or late in the day when electricity demand is lower). Turn off the water when brushing teeth and wash fuller loads of laundry. Hang clothes out to dry (within limits -- ok, neighborhood associations?) or use an energy-saving dryer (and don't fluff five times to de-wrinkle things before finally getting them out and folding them).
  • Sort items for recycling or, if you live in a township that combines items, just recycle! It's just as easy to put items in the recycle bin as the trash can, yes? Do what I do with smaller plastic bottles -- pretend you're on the 76ers and toss the item like a basketball hoping to get it into the box for 2 points!
  • Grow something! Grow an herb garden (they come in boxes at craft, home, and home improvement stores). Grow tomatoes (see previous note about stores). Grow flowers, which help keep bees going which help to keep our food supply going (it's all connected, people!). Or plant a tree -- for the beauty of it, in memory of someone, because it's a good thing for the environment, because it's fun.

There are so many ways we all can help the world and protect it for future generations. For the young ones and for the young at heart not yet participating in this endeavor which helps us all, the time to plant the seed is now.

Author: Tara Lynn Johnson, Philadelphia-region freelance writer

The 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and Second Chance Toys Earth Week Toy Collection was a big success!

Close to 700 gently used plastic toys were collected and donated to disadvantaged kids all around New Jersey. Thanks to the time and effort put in by the 1-800-GOT-JUNK? team, those donated toys will play an important role in their new recipient’s development and will help with their creativity, imagination and socialization.

A BIG thank you to 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and to everyone who donated their toys!


1-800-GOT-JUNK? is teaming up with Second Chance Toys to collect gently used plastic toys all around New Jersey on Saturday April 12th and Sunday April 13th.

Stop by a drop-off location near you and donate your outgrown gently used plastic toys so they can be donated to disadvantaged children in your community. As a special thanks for your toy donations, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? would like to offer you $35 off your next junk removal to help you finish your spring cleaning! Just look for the big blue 1-800-GOT-JUNK? truck at one of  the 7 locations below.

*You can find these and all other Earth Week drop-off locations by clicking here.

Please remember, all donated toys must be:  plastic, clean, no small or missing parts and come with working batteries.


Saturday April 12th – 10am to 1pm

Annunciation Church – truck will be parked in school parking lot 10am-1pm

601 West Browning Lane Bellmawr, NJ 08031


Sunday April 13th

Cherry Hill Fire Station 10am-1pm

1100 Marlkress Road Cherry Hill, NJ  08003


Park Plaza Shopping Center 10am-1pm

590 Park Avenue Freehold, NJ 08550


Morris Township's Woodland Fire Station 10am-1pm

20 Dwyer Lane Morris Township, NJ  07960 (Morristown if using GPS)


Doc's Furniture Mart 10am-1pm

881 Black Horse Pike Pleasantville, NJ 08232


Little Rocky Hill Volunteer Fire Company Station 41  12pm-3pm

4348 Route 27  Princeton, NJ 08540


Teaneck Community Police Station – truck will be parked in adjacent library parking lot 10am-1pm

900 Teaneck Road  Teaneck, NJ 07666



It's that time of year again! The Kidville Spring Toy Collection locations in the NY metropolitan area can now be found in the drop-off locations section of our website. Finish up your spring cleaning by bringing your outgrown gently used plastic toys to a Kidville location near you May 9th-15th. Help us help kids and the environment!

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.

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.


Over the holidays I tried to teach my three year-old about charity. My attempt to instill a sense of giving and kindness was in part, motivated by my dislike of excess. I was also unsure whether or not my son would be too young to understand the concept, but thought that I’d at least try. After many conversations explaining the concept of gratitude, giving and receiving, we struck deal. For every toy that he would receive for Christmas, he would give one, but ideally two, away to a child in need.

“To Sunnyside?” he asked. “The happy one?” referencing the movie Toy Story 3 in which the characters found themselves mistakenly donated to a local daycare. The ‘happy one’ was a lively, friendly place after the deposition of the ruling dictator toy – a teddy bear. Not sure where this would lead, I responded yes, because the emotions and actions in the movie was something he was familiar with. “Or to Room to Grow?” he then asked, knowing that I work for this organization, but not entirely clear about exactly what we do and why. “Both in a way,” I replied. “Room to Grow is similar to Sunnyside, but many of the children do not have as many toys as you do.”

“Oh, that’s too bad,” one of his catch-phrases, “that makes me very sad.” And he then went through his toys, contemplating each and every one. After a while, we had a tidy sum of playthings: favorites that he wanted to share, toys for babies that he insisted his younger sister was ‘too old’ for, and others he barely touched. During the process, I both marveled at his ability to give and worried if I was expecting too much from a three-year old in discussing childhood poverty. 

My son couldn’t understand why some children didn’t have toys and I couldn’t come up with an understandable explanation for poverty. And so I tried to tell him that even if we don’t know why, we could try to help. At Room to Grow, our mission is to enrich the lives of babies born into poverty, by providing parents with the tools and resources to become confident caretakers while coping with financial struggles. Second Chance Toys supports our efforts by working with the community to collect toys to distribute to children in need. And as I stumbled over my words and attempted to clarify why some people have things and some do not – and how others could help, he said, “That’s okay mommy. My toys can go to good Sunnyside and make other children happy.” 

I’m still working on instilling charity and kindness in my children today. But as I think back on our afternoon sorting toys and my son’s idea of a ‘happy Sunnyside’ – this basic concept is something we can grasp and strive for together.

To learn more about Room to Grow, visit or contact Elaine at

Author: Elaine Chow, Director of Communications and Community Relations 

Plastic is notoriously tricky to recycle—that’s why it’s such a generous and eco-friendly choice to re-gift your gently used plastics to organizations like Second Chance Toys. (And bonus: you’re bound to bring a smile to a child’s face!)

While donating can be good for the soul, if you’re anything like me, a reminder of the goodness of other people also brightens up my day. With that on my mind, I went on a mission to find some of the most creative and inspiring ways other people are reusing plastic to encourage those around them.

From Flip-Flops to Toys

Kenya, with its warm temperatures and beautiful beaches, has an interesting predicament: thousands of abandoned flip-flops left on its shores each year. Flip-flops are cheap and easily replaceable, but the environmental cost (and risk to animals that digest the plastic) is very real.

In comes Ocean Sole, a Kenya-based recycling company that transforms discarded plastic flip-flops into fun, colorful toys, jewelry, and other miscellaneous creations (juggling balls, anyone?) The bulk of their store consists of safari sculptures--toy elephants, giraffes and more in a rainbow of colors.

I have to say, I’m a big fan! Who knew would-be waste could turn into something so beautiful?

If you’d like to learn more, CNN recently did a great feature here or visit them at

From Toys to Full-Scale Medical Devices

I remember as a middle-schooler, my first phone was a plastic and see-through--with all the colorful inner-wirings on full display. When my mom saw my purchase, she asked, “Is it real or is it a toy?”

Little Devices, a medical technology group, out of MIT, probably wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss toys. They help clinics in third-world countries use toys and toy parts to create, real, life-saving medical devices. While they often get donations of outdated medical equipment from the U.S. and Europe, it’s impossible for them to replace parts or otherwise repair the high-tech equipment they receive.

The solution? Toys!

Toys are everywhere—and they’re cheap. A Nicaraguan clinic needed an alarm to go off when an IV bag would empty. They did this with some ingenuity and a toy gun that buzzes should you hit the trigger. Little Devices also creates kits to help provide parts in a very Do-It-Yourself fashion—some kits even contain Legos!

I have to admit, I never won an art show or science fair as a kid, but I’m glad there are people out there that are way more creative than I am putting together these small medical miracles. Even more incredibly, it’s collaboration between people in different continents who simply share the same goal of saving lives.

If you’d like to learn more, I found a fun video interview with Little Devices here, the New York Times recently wrote a quite in-depth piece here, and you can visit them at

Author: Susan Kemp, Denver-based freelance writer 


Volunteers from the 14th Street Y Parents Association in NYC have collected over 250 gently used plastic toys for their very deserving recipients at the Upper Room International Ministries homeless service in Queens.

Dara Cohen, the chair of the Parents Association, reached out to Second Chance Toys to see how they could help our mission of helping kids and the environment. She was very excited to get started and to be matched with a recipient organization serving NYC kids in need.

Dara and the Parents Association placed collection bins at the Y and have worked together to clean, sort and check the toys for the new recipients before delivery.They even donated addtional new batteries to make sure all of the toys are working perfectly now and in the future.

Thank you 14th Street Y Parents Association! Because of your efforts, the children at Upper Room Ministries will receive fun toys that will also help with creativity, imagination and socialization.

Jamie Brown from Omaha, Nebraska, along with other members of the Omaha Atheists Group, volunteered to collect gently used plastic toys for the holidays -- little did they know, they would all end up doing much more.

The assigned recipient organization for their donation happened to be Nebraska’s largest homeless shelter. The shelter provides food, emergency shelter and clothing, along with outreach/case management to homeless families and individuals.

Some of the volunteers working with Jamie did not have access to gently used plastic toys but still wanted to make a difference. Jamie found a list of needs on the organization’s website and decided to take her volunteer initiative one step further.

All of the members came together and donated some fantastic gently used plastic toys. Along with the toy donations, they donated books, clothing, and other items like trash bags, blankets, pillows… even coffee mugs.

The total donation filled 3 cars to the brim and they had an extremely rewarding experience.

Thank you Jamie, and your entire crew. You have made a huge difference in your community. 

This holiday season Second Chance Toys conducted 125 collections in 26 states reaching a total of 21,532 toys collected!

Thanks to our amazing supporters who continue to spread word of the SCT mission, Second Chance Toys is keeping thousands of pounds of plastic out of landfills and donating beautiful toys to children in need all over the country.

The total number of toys donated to date is now over 170,000 and we couldn't have done it without the dedication of our volunteers.

Thank you so much for your support! 

The weather outside has been frightful. Much of the country has been dealing with snow and extreme cold weather that has kept people indoors with fingers and toes tingly from the cold. If you're stuck inside, there's a way to make the time pass and it'll warm your heart too.

You know that resolution you made to be more organized and less cluttered? You know how cleaning out closets, family areas, garages, and more sounds like no fun? Instead of thinking of the chore that it is, think of it as something positive, something that creates happy faces. Focus on who will benefit from your hard work.

Imagine the woman's face as she pulls your pastel yellow Easter suit off the rack at an organization where you donated it.  It's still in great shape but you want to buy something new, so you give it away. Now she can look as lovely as she wants to on her holiday -- doesn't that make you feel good?

Think of the man who doesn't have a warm coat for this historically cold winter we're having. You have several coats bursting out of the hall closet, so you give one away. You're not only being kind; you might be saving a life. That feels good, right?

Now think of the smile on the face of the child who gets the no longer wanted toys that are still in good condition. Cleaning out the toy area makes space for all the Christmas goodies that Santa brought. Giving the toys to an organization like Second Chance Toys means a very deserving girl or boy will have something new to love and enjoy. Now the child isn't the only one smiling... you are too!

If you clean and then make your donations you can check off a resolution from your list, enjoy a de-cluttered house, and relish the good feeling of helping others. That alone will warm your heart and make this coldest of seasons a little easier to get through (even if the rest of you is freezing... brrrr). 

Author: Tara Lynn Johnson, Philadelphia-region freelance writer

Thanks to the dedication of our friends at Kidville, close to 3,000 gently used plastic toys were collected and donated around the country for the holidays.

Kidville associates volunteered their time to spread the word and promote the Second Chance Toys mission within each of their communities. Their efforts resulted in an amazing response from Kidville constituents and the donated toys were absolutely wonderful.

Many deserving children from the East Coast to the West were able to enjoy their donations just in time for the holidays and we couldn’t have done it without the commitment of Kidville.

Keeping non-biodegradable plastic toys out of landfills by donating them to children in need is a mission that both Kidville and SCT are devoted to and we look forward to doing even more 'GOOD and GREEN' together in 2014!

Now that the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is behind us, many of us have thoughts of becoming a better person in 2014. Some may choose health and wellness, while others choose financial improvement, but there is also the select group of kind souls who resolve to give back to the community.

You might wonder which volunteer opportunity is right for you. Here’s a list of 7 ways you can serve your community.

1. Donate funds

Life can be hectic for many people and they simply do not have room in their schedules to donate their time. For those of us who can afford it, a donation of funds can go to a long way to a charity.

2. Donate time

For busy (and slim-budgeted) college students like myself, a donation of my time is all some are able to afford, but time can be just as valuable as money! Find a cause that touches your heart and contact an organization to discover what it is you can do to help out.

3. Seek out online opportunities

Again, I am quite the busy lady. I work during the day and have schoolwork on weekends. Like many people, most of my free time is in the evenings. For people in that situation, online volunteer opportunities are perfect. I can sit at my computer and help an organization when I can find the time. From blogging to tutoring, or bookkeeping to graphic designing, there are numerous ways a person can put their skills to use for charity from behind their computer desk.

4. Donate your craft

Every person has a unique range of skills. Find a way to use those skills to help someone else. For example, crafty people can donate handmade goods to organizations that distribute them to people in need. 

5. Travel for your cause

While much of volunteer focus is concerned with people near to us, it is important to remember that individuals in other countries desperately need our help. There are credible organizations (do your homework on this one!) that provide volunteer opportunities abroad. Also, it is possible to fundraise for your expenses, so this opportunity is more accessible than you might think.

6. Organize a food, clothing, book or toy drive

Leadership is essential for organizations to gather the materials they need. I know of a particular charity that keeps plastic toys out of landfills (hint, hint) that is collecting toys in April for Earth Week that would love your efforts!

7. Raise awareness

My final tip for helping others in this New Year is to spread the word about the joys of volunteering. As much as your efforts will help others, it will help you just as much through the satisfaction it brings. The more we let others know, the more good will be done.  Share this post, get to work and let’s make 2014 a wonderful year for every life we touch. 

Author: Emily Bloomquist, Early Childhood Education Student

Florida resident, Emily Riggans, reached out to Second Chance Toys two months prior to our 2013 Holiday collection. Once she learned of our organization she couldn’t wait to jump in to help the SCT mission.

Emily began her volunteer efforts by encouraging her community to get involved. She reached out to her local Fire Department as well as many friends and family across South Florida—all were very excited to help.

She spoke with our partners from 1-800-GOT-JUNK? for toy delivery assistance and was even able to set up a meeting with Neiman Marcus of Fort Lauderdale so that they could collect toys as part of their outstanding “Give, Care, Share” initiative.

After all of the community outreach, toy pickups, cleaning and sorting were complete, close to 1,000 gently used plastic toys had been collected. The beautiful toys were delivered to the Miami Rescue Mission, an organization serving the homeless of South Florida since 1922.

Thank you to Emily, Neiman Marcus Fort Lauderdale, and all of the volunteers who contributed to this fantastic collection. It’s because of dedicated individuals like you that we are able to do what we do!

Associates from the Earthserve team at Johnson & Johnson in Raritan, NJ have held their first SCT collection resulting in over 100 toys donated to children in need within their community!

Earthserve is J&J Raritan’s campus green team and they are truly dedicated to helping the environment, making their volunteer efforts with Second Chance Toys a perfect fit.

Associates came together to gather gently used plastic toys from their own children or grandchildren to be redistributed to kids who may go without this holiday season. Some associates without a source for gently used toys even went as far as purchasing new toys to make a contribution.

Once the toys were sorted through and cleaned, Catherine Pherson of Earthserve personally delivered them to a local organization serving kids in need. 

Amazing work. Thank you for your dedication, Earthserve!

See below for a heartfelt note from Johnson & Johnson Earthserve:

Dear Second Chance Toys,

Thank you for this program that is helpful on so many fronts. You connect volunteer organizations with charitable groups who can use help, you assist charitable organizations in locating donors, and you do Planet Earth a big favor by encouraging the REDUCE-REUSE-RECYCLE concept around the most gluttonous time of the year.

Happy holidays to everyone at Second Chance Toys from everyone at Earthserve!


With the generous help of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, over 1,000 toys from local Second Chance Toys holiday collections were transported to New Community Corporation Harmony House in Newark, NJ.

The toys were collected and cleaned by Evergreen Elementary in Scotch Plains, Kidville Westfield and Westfield Pediatric Dental Group.

Newark mayor Luis Quintana and Steve Weatherford of the NY Giants were on hand at the transitional housing facility to distribute the toys to all of the deserving children. They even joined the fun and helped test out the great donations alongside their excited new owners!


With circulars touting TVs for rock-bottom prices, games and toys that children absolutely must have, and many items that shoppers didn't know they needed until they saw them, it’s easy to get wrapped up (no pun intended) in the consumerism of the holidays. It's even easier to lose sight of one of the greatest gifts that you can give – joy.

In our consumer culture, it can take effort to overcome the onslaught of ads and pressure to buy certain things or spend a certain amount during the holidays. I've met people who thought that only a $50 gift (or more) was “appropriate.” Bah humbug. I say it's not about the cost -- it's about the thought. Gifts can be bought or made. They can be small, but meaningful. They can be inexpensive, but mean the world to the receiver.

The real value reveals itself in the moment that you hand someone a present: To you, from me, and I picked it just for you. That usually brings a smile to the recipient's face. It’s nice to be remembered on a birthday or a holiday, and for kids, it’s fun to get a toy to play with -- especially if they don’t have many.

Gift givers may think they’re giving something tangible but in reality, they’re giving something even better, something magical -- they're giving the gift of joy, to the receiver and themselves. 

What's the value of that? It's priceless.

Author: Tara Lynn Johnson, Philadelphia-region freelance writer and joyful gift-giver.