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Volunteers supporting the Tashua Elementary Go Green Team in Connecticut have collected and donated over 400 toys for their annual Second Chance Toys Holiday Toy Drive! 

The shiny gently used plastic toys were delivered to Community Closet in Fairfield with the help of our outstanding partners at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?.

Thanks to their efforts in spreading the SCT mission through press and word of mouth, even more Connecticut communities are planning to hold their own toy collections in the future.

The Tashua Go Green Team is taking it one step further and has set a goal to collect even MORE toys! An additional toy drive for their community is in the works with hopes of reaching a total of 700+ toys before Christmas.

A special thanks to Jim Sullivan for always going above and beyond for SCT, and to Chris Kirk from 1-800-GOT-JUNK? for immediately jumping on the SCT train with enthusiasm and dedication. 

We know you'll exceed your goal, Tashua. Thank you for all you do!


Kidville’s Holiday FUNdraiser to Benefit

Second Chance Toys!


Sunday December 8th


Kidville – Upper East Side

163 E. 84th Street

One Ticket Required Per Person - $20




Photos with Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer

A special Holiday Concert from Kidville’s Rockin’ Railroad Band

Interactive Art Table

Play Time in the Kidville Gym

Pizza, Snack & Drinks for the Entire Fanily

& More!



Kidville UES is collecting gently used plastic toys from December 2nd through the event on December 8th.  Every toy will be going directly to a child in need.

Click here to purchase tickets


Our valued supporters at Kidville will be opening their doors at 25 national locations to collect gently used plastic toys for the holidays.

All NY Metro collections will take place December 2nd until December 8th and will culminate with an exciting Holiday FUNdraiser!  

Please join us at Kidville UES on Sunday, December 8th from 4-5:30pm. There will be a ton of great activities, refreshments, music, and even an appearance by Dora the Explorer thanks to our outstanding supporters at Viacom! Don’t forget to bring your gently used plastic toy donations. All of the collected toys will be delivered to children in need in the surrounding communities that very same day! More details about the FUNdraiser here.

Click here to find a participating NY Metro Kidville near you.

See below for all other national locations:


4825 Bethesda Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814 - Collecting December 9th until December 15th


Fallsgrove Village Center (14925-A Shady Grove Road), Rockville, MD 20850 - Collecting December 9th until December 15th


11740 San Vicente Blvd. Suite 107, Los Angeles, CA 90049 - Collecting December 9th until December 15th


6025 Royal Lane, Dallas, TX 75230 - Collecting December 9th until December 15th

The Woodlands 

4747 Research Forest Drive (Cochran's Crossing), The Woodlands, TX 77381 - Collecting December 9th until December 15th

Lincoln Park

1030 W. North Avenue (3rd Floor), Chicago, IL 60642 - Collecting December 9th until December 15th

Tivoli Village

420 S. Rampart Blvd, Suite 130, Las Vegas, NV 89145 - Collecting December 9th until December 15th


34 Central Street, Wellesley, MA 02482 - Collecting December 9th until December 15th


1572 Post Road East, Westport, CT 0688 - Collecting December 2nd until December 8th

We are very excited to announce our collaboration with Johnson & Johnson for their America Recycles Day initiative.

J&J Associates joined forces with Second Chance Toys and collected more than 300 gently used plastic toys since April at their Skillman and Morris Plains locations as part of the company’s continued commitment to helping the environment.

Toys donated at these locations were cleaned, tagged and delivered to children in need that very same day in their very own community to bring smiles for the holidays. These efforts not only helped children, but kept pounds of non-biodegradable plastic out of landfills. America Recycles Day calls for bigger and better recycling, and we’re doing just that! These efforts compliment J&J’s already strong commitment through the Care to Recycle Program.

The recycling events took place November 12th in Morris Plains and November 14th in Skillman where Johnson & Johnson employees took their recycle pledge to help kids in need.

We are very proud of our results and look forward to growing this program together in the future!

Eagle Scout Mark Ciccaglione volunteered his time to collect toys for Second Chance Toys for the holidays in his hometown of Park Ridge, New Jersey.

Mark’s project took a lot of dedication and time. He and a group of volunteers from his troop distributed flyers around the community to explain his volunteer efforts. The flyer mentioned that he would go around house to house and collect toys that were left outside and also let his neighbors know that there would be collection boxes in the town library and local church. 

Additionally, Mark raised awareness by placing flyers outside of several restaurants, speaking at church masses and putting a notice in the church bulletin. Once all of the toys from his neighbors were collected, Mark and his troop volunteers took it one step further by getting permission to collect toy donations outside of some local businesses.

Over two days, close to 1,000 toys were cleaned, organized and inspected to be sent off to a recipient organization in Newark, NJ where they will be ‘reloved ‘and reused for the holidays.

Way to go, Mark! Your efforts are making a big difference! 

Since we are on the heels of Halloween I thought it would be the perfect time to talk about dress-up. Most children enjoy and can benefit from pretending to be someone else for a while. We aren’t done with the Halloween costumes yet!

The brain is strengthened during play with dress-up clothes; it actually has tons of cognitive benefits. When dressing up as someone else, children are learning to take the perspective of other people. Preschoolers and younger children in particular are still learning that other people think differently than they do and dress-up is a perfect way to practice.

Dress-up and pretend play is also a way children learn to deal with our world. Doctor coats and bags help children get over their fear of the doctor’s office; firefighter jackets and helmets teach children to trust firefighters. Not only that, but creativity blossoms when children are given the opportunity to dress as someone else. A safari hat can take a child on a extravagant excursion in the jungle, or simple rain boots can turn an entire classroom into a giant mud puddle.

Quite often when people think of dress-up, they think of the expensive costumes and sets. However, that is not necessary! Dig in your closet and find clothes that you don’t wear anymore; your children will love them, and you’re recycling all at the same time. And don’t forget those Halloween costumes! 

Author: Emily Bloomquist, Early Childhood Education Student

Sadly, there are some children who have not yet learned to have an ‘Attitude of Gratitude’ when receiving a gift. They might make faces if they receive something not to their liking or sulk and say "I already have this" if they get a duplicate. It’s so simple to help children to learn how to appreciate what they have and what they receive. It's also simple and extremely important to teach them how to give.

As the holiday season begins to chug along toward its wrapping-ripping conclusion, here are some ideas to help little ones see the bigger picture, more of the reason for the season, as they celebrate and have fun too.

1)  For Christmas and other gift-giving occasions this time of year, make a wish list for family and friends (and Santa), but limit the number of presents that can be on it. Back in the day, it was common for children to sit with large catalogs from department stores and circle everything they wanted. And now, as they are influenced by the bombardment of TV, Internet, and other advertising, children of all ages want more, more, more. But it's important to have less, less, less -- to save space, to be able to organize everything easily, to guarantee one will actually use what she or he receives, and to help the environment by not eventually overloading landfills with unwanted, unused plastic toys, games, and other things. List limiting also makes children choose what they really want and eliminates feelings of entitlement to getting whatever they desire.

2)  Choose one currently owned toy to donate to charity for each new toy that's received. Explain that there are many children who don't have any toys and it would be nice to share with them. Children often believe that everyone is like them -- that all children live the same way, have the same kind of family and the same living situations, but that's not the case. Doing this when kids are little helps to encourage a lifetime of sharing, giving, and compassion.

3) Saying thank you is nice, but writing it is even better. Have the children write a thank you for each gift received. Even the littlest among them can draw a crayon mark that is just theirs after Mom or Dad writes the actual note. Explain as the note is being written why it's important to thank someone for their generosity and kindness, for their thoughtfulness. Just like saying "please" is important, so is "thank you." And for a gift, it's a nice gesture to take the time to write a note specifically to the giver of a gift. It makes the gift buyer feel good and, for the children, reinforces the ideas of gratitude and thankfulness.

There are many opportunities throughout the year to reinforce gratitude, sharing, and caring. But the holidays create the most amazing tied-with-bows opportunities to do so in a really big way.

Author: Tara Lynn Johnson, Philadelphia-region freelance writer and thank you note sender

When Peggy Traynham’s daughter died of breast cancer four years ago, she assumed the responsibility of raising her five children. Two of them, a 13-year-old girl and a disabled 23-year-old disabled young man, still live with her today.

The trend of grandparents raising grandchildren is a growing one. Of the nation's families, 2.4 million are now maintained by grandparents who have one or more of their grandchildren living with them, according to the latest Census data.

But trying to make ends meet has not been easy for many of these grandparents. Traynham, 61, a retired security officer with no income of her own, lives in a low-income, Newark townhouse development owned and operated by the non-profit New Community Corporation. She relies heavily on the organization’s food pantry to help feed herself and her two grandchildren, whose government checks help pay the rent.

 “It’s been helpful lots of times,” said Traynham, who picks up items like frozen whole chicken, canned goods and bread from New Community’s Emergency Food Pantry, during the monthly visits.

Since the pantry opened in March of 2012, the number of families and individuals in need of food has steadily increased. This year alone, the pantry has served more than 7,000 clients, including seniors, single parents, low income working individuals and the homeless. 

“Interestingly, the demographic that has really increased is the ‘working poor,’ those people who don’t make enough to always make ends meet,” explained Malcolm Hayman, Assistant Director of Social Services for New Community Corp. He said the need for food assistance is rising because of the economy and cuts in the federal food stamp program, which take effect November 1st. With the approaching holidays, pantry officials are expecting even more people to turn to them for food assistance and they are worried there will simply not be enough food.

The New Community pantry is open after the 15th of every month and typically distributes 90 percent of its stock by the third day after opening.The pantry receives a pre-determined allotment of food monthly from the Community Food Bank of New Jersey and occasionally also receives food from Catholic Charities.Still, it is difficult to keep up with the demand.

“We are forced to refer clients to other pantries after our supply runs out,” Hayman, the New Community official, explained. “Unfortunately, our supply falls far short of the demand.”

If you can help the New Community Emergency Food Pantry by making a food donation, please call 973-623-6114. The pantry will even pick up major donations of food.

“Nowadays, we all need help,” said Traynham, the Newark grandmother raising her two grandchildren. “Today it may be me, but tomorrow it could be you.”

Author: Angela Stewart, Director of Communications at New Community Corp.

As the weather turns colder and the leaves changes to the yellows and browns of autumn, I am reminded of what nature does so easily that many people struggle to do, reuse and recycle.  The leaves will eventually fall to the ground and over the coming months turn into compost that the trees will use to nourish their growth next Spring and Summer. Our society has become a disposable society. We throw things away without regard for the environment or the ability for that item to be reused. Second Chance Toys helps me feel good and gets me closer to nature.

You might be wondering how I have made the leap from leaves, trees and nature to toys but it is really quite simple. Children are fed and grow with the help of toys. Toys help their imaginations grow, letting them learn about the adult world through play and gives them joy. It is feeding their minds like the leaves feed the tree. Many of the plastic toys that my children outgrew still had plenty of life left in them and just needed a new home and a good wash cloth. Second Chance Toys gives the toys that new home, a home where they can be appreciated and used. The children need toys that will expand their minds while bringing a bit of joy.

As the leaves change and you clean out your children’s closets to get ready for the winter and make room for the holiday gift giving season, think of the leaves and what that toy might mean to a child whose ground is barren of toys. Include your children in this process by letting them help pack up the toys and let them tell you of the joy and dreams that toy brought to them. Another child is waiting for those same joys and dreams. Donate your toys today to give a dream to another child and let their minds grow. 

Author: Ron Lottermann, Fair Lawn Recycling Coordinator and SCT Collection Volunteer

What’s the key to inspiring the next generation of humanitarians?  That's the question I ask myself when spending time with my 5 year old niece and 8 year old nephew.

Aside from the buffered picture our elders paint for us, childhood often means having little understanding of what the outside world is really like.

I see my niece and nephew’s eyes light up when I give them a birthday present wrapped in colorful paper, take them to an exciting carnival, or get them that cool new must have winter coat.. but do they know that there are children in the world who are not lucky enough to have those things?

Starting at a very young age my parents exposed me to the art of helping, volunteering, and just being kind. From the small act of helping an elderly person with their groceries or having a conversation with someone having a bad day, to the larger gestures like providing a warm bed and hot meal for a person in need. My parents never thought twice about jumping in and lending a helping hand. As time passed they became the ‘go to’ people for comfort and guidance. They helped not only our friends and family, but distant acquaintances and often times, even complete strangers. My parents are the inspiration for me to make a difference and focus my skills toward the greater good in order to ‘help those who cannot help themselves’. That’s why I find my position as Operations Manager at Second Chance Toys to be so rewarding.

Quick backstory: My parents had to redirect and clarify their message when I was 6 years old. I tried to give my McDonalds Happy Meal away to a homeless man on the streets of Boston at Christmas time without asking them if I could speak to a stranger. They had to quickly jump in and explain that giving away my own dinner wasn’t the best way to help. We went in and got him his own food and I was able to enjoy mine as well (along with my awesome new Happy Meal toy – a Strawberry Shortcake Christmas Ornament- very exciting stuff). All in all, a great lesson that I'll never forget.

I’ll be forever thankful for the gift of empathy and the desire to make a difference that my parents gave me as a young person, and now I am passing that precious gift to my niece and nephew. Someday, when I’m a mother, I look forward to passing it along to my own children as well.

Whether it’s by providing a gentle reminder that when they don’t get exactly what they want, there are children out there with absolutely nothing -- children their same age with their same wants and needs. I always make sure to share pictures of the toy donations I coordinate so they are able to see the joy on their peer’s faces, and of course, the smile on their Auntie’s face as well.  As they are getting older I’m seeing that they are able and eager to understand the message even more.

The key to inspiring the next generation of humanitarians is to do exactly what my parents did. Share the great need for kindness in the world and explain that not everyone is as lucky as the next. Most importantly, share the impact that kindness has on everyone involved; the person providing the kindness, the person who needs it, and the people witnessing it who are now inspired to do the same.

When my niece and nephew are a little older I’ll be taking them to charity events as my most important, very special guests -- the next generation of inspired humanitarians.


A friend's Facebook post recently reminded me that I've been missing something very basic: blog reading. Also, commenting on blog posts. And I want to get back to it, and share with you what on the internet compels me to read, share, and click (and, er, sometimes purchase). Why? Because my mom nailed it when she said to me yesterday, "Hey, you can find a lot on the internet!" So, I bring you a new post series: Hey Internet, Keep Being Awesome. Happy reading!

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I am lucky.  Every day I get to work with people who spend a considerable amount of their time trying to better their community. When I was asked recently about my thoughts on raising a charitable child, I immediately though about the families I have seen using my site and the many ways busy parents can take the lessons I have learned and teach them to their children.

With the holiday season approaching, it is a great time to start new projects and to really drive home the lesson of volunteerism. Here are a few ways to set a good example for your kids, get them involved, and teach them about the importance of philanthropy.


As a mom, I know that kids admire and want to emulate their parents, so getting kids to act in an empathic way can often be a natural result of simply watching how you treat and talk about others, whether it be taking the time to visit someone who is sick, donating to a cause you care about or defending someone who others are making fun of.


With so many households being run by work-outside-the-home parents, people have less time today than ever. Sometimes even doing the research to find an appropriate volunteer project can be taxing and parents may not know that there are some simple volunteer opportunities available that can be rewarding, fun and provide a great opportunity to have a new experience with their kids.

Depending on the age of the child, the volunteerism will vary. It could be something simple from a trash cleanup that anyone can participate in to something more age appropriate. Something that little ones often shine at is visiting the sick and the elderly. Children are naturally empathetic and bring a lightness to these situations because they often don’t feel the heaviness of the environment the way adults do. Simply walking into a room, saying hello to the residents, or even playing games with them is enough to brighten someone’s day. Older children are often great at coming up with their own projects, whether it’s finding a local shelter that they want to volunteer with or identifying a need in the community that they would like to raise money for.

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Second Chance Toys needs YOUR help! We want this to be the most successful gently used plastic toy collection to date!

Traditionally, the holiday season is the busiest time of year at Second Chance Toys. We are projecting to serve more than 20,000 children before the end of December. With the help of your friends, family, and colleagues, we are confident that you’ll be able to collect at least 50 gently used plastic toys in order to serve disadvantaged children in the key metro areas this holiday season.

We are currently focusing our efforts in six areas: 

Please sign up as a Collector so that we can match you with a recipient organization and provide all of the necessary materials to help make your collection successful and fun.

If you are in the areas listed above and have less than 50 toys to donate, you can still make a difference! Check out our website to find a donation drop-off location nearest you. Let’s work together to keep plastic toys out of our landfills and put them into the hands of children who need them the most.

But even the most avid recyclers can overlook things.  In fact, we recently learned that there is one room in the house where many of us forget to recycle.  It’s probably the smallest room in your house and it’s the room where most of our personal care products are used…the bathroom.

Members of the Sustainability team here at Johnson & Johnson were brainstorming ways to encourage home recycling, and we had an “aha” moment.  We realized that most of the consumer products we sell are found or used in the bathroom, and we wondered if those products were getting recycled as much as products in other parts of the house.

When we did some research, we learned that most people in the US recycle products from the bathroom far less than they recycle products from other places like the kitchen and the laundry room.  In fact, while 69% of Americans claim to always or almost always recycle, only 20% say they consistently recycle products from the bathroom.*   The fact that the bathroom recycling percentage was so low was surprising, but when I thought about recycling in my own home, it made sense.

Bathrooms are usually tight on space, so it’s not likely that you have a recycling bin in your bathroom.  Also, your main bathroom may be upstairs - away from your regular recycling bins.  In our house we have the “walk it down” routine where we try our best to bring empty bottles and cartons down to the kitchen recycling area.  But, if I’m honest, this “walk it down” technique isn’t always a gentle walk.  A lot of times, it’s more like “throw it down” (…or, throw it down aggressively with shouts of laughter if my five year old son is involved).   Then, as the pile increases at the foot of the stairs, “bystander recycling apathy” is eventually overcome when someone, usually my saintly wife, decides to finish the job and move the bathroom recyclables over to the main recycling bin in the kitchen!

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“Learning through play” is a phrase I often see in boilerplate copy – in my son’s nursery school’s curriculum, in a company’s product description on a new line of toys, and even in our own outreach materials at Room to Grow. It’s a short, positive phrase that promotes early learning and toys as one of the primary teaching tools for parents, caretakers and educators. But over the past few months I’ve been thinking about this phrase while observing my children play together. The concept of sharing comes to mind often and means so much to me on several different levels.

Shared learning through play  is what I see when my infant daughter is drawn to whatever toy happens to be in my son’s hands – for example, a set of wooden building blocks. Earlier this morning, my son lined up his blocks in a row and organized by shape and color on the living room floor. She quickly crawled over and started moving and stacking them haphazardly. Flustered at the disorder, my son looked at her unsound construction and after giving some thought, aptly named the pile a ‘sand castle,’ declared the living room floor a ‘beach,’ and the tassels on the area rug as ‘seaweed in the ocean.’ He then gave her a pail and shovel and told her to start ‘scooping the sand.’ She followed suit and on this windy and rainy day, my children pretended they were on the beach.

Shared learning through play is what I see at Room to Grow when the children in our program receive toys that others have outgrown. We provide families in need with individualized parenting support and connections to vital community services and all of the needed baby items to ensure a healthy and secure start in life for their children. Families visit us every three months starting from the mother’s last trimester of pregnancy until the child turns three. At every visit they receive essential high-quality materials including toys, donated by generous supporters whose children have outgrown their belongings. To me, there’s a thoughtful sense of community when families contribute baby items that are still in excellent condition to other families in need. The parents may never meet each other, but their children will have played with the same toy - worn the same shirt - read the same book.

On a wider scope, shared learning through play is what happens when Second Chance Toys connects community groups and corporate organizations with charities that serve children in need. At Room to Grow, we are grateful for our ongoing partnership with Second Chance Toys. Through their annual collection drives and special events throughout the year the organization keep toys out of the landfill and in the hands of children - where they belong. The nearly new toys they collect for our children are shared, loved and appreciated.

To share, sharing and shared. It is a kind gesture. It is imagination and creativity in (inter)action. It is a thoughtful way of giving. “Shared learning through play” is a slightly longer phrase, but one that implies families, kinship and community – and important for all children to experience.

To learn more about Room to Grow contact Elaine at

Author: Elaine Chow, Community Relations Manager at Room to Grow NYC

During a recent chat, a close friend of mine mentioned how excited she is about the program she is doing with her daughter’s Girl Scouts of America troop. Her enthusiasm made me want to learn more. “It’s Your Planet – Love it,” is a new program offered by the Girls Scouts that focuses on the key leadership areas of… Discover, Connect, and Take Action all within the framework of environmental awareness.

(Quick Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with the Girl Scouts, other than my daughter participated for some years. This just seems like a really cool program!)

After listening to what my friend’s Wisconsin troop is doing, I decided to check out the program online.Here is a quick blurb from the Girl Scouts website:

“Girls are being exposed to ideas and discussions on the environment every day and everywhere. Girl Scouts journeys are packed with the latest research and girl-relevant environmental thinking and offer adults a way to interact with girls on topics of great importance in their lives. In this journey series, girls at each grade level have an opportunity to learn about grade-appropriate environmental issues such as clean water and air, noise pollution, global warming, soil contamination, and agricultural processes.”

What a great premise for a program!

Hearing my friend’s stories and reading about this program gives me hope that the next generation will be focused on environmental issues and engaged in preserving our planet.

To learn more about the types of projects in the program, check out this link to the PDF. It describes each of the different project areas:  Between Earth and Sky, Wow! Wonders of Water, Get Moving, Breathe, Sow What? and Justice.

Like all other Girl Scout initiatives, they have created resources and tools to help you, your daughter, and your troop. Tools like books, sheets for copying, and project ideas are all available. The program is offered to all levels of the Scouts and enables them to earn awards and participate in special projects and ceremonies.

Check out these cuties for an example of a Youtube video about water conservation! You can find more of the “It’s Your Planet” project videos out on Youtube. The girls have really put their heart and soul into these projects!

In fairness, for those of you who are in the moody teen years, like my husband and I are with our brood, it’s a little harder to get them to join anything … but they do think the girls scout videos are sweet and that the program looks great.

Thankfully, we strive for eco-consciousness at home so they get to practice some of the great things the Girls Scouts are already doing.

Author: Kelly Eisenhardt, SCT Board Member & Environmental Professional

Four year old Brian is known for his elaborate block constructions. He builds houses for his pretend family, garages for his toy cars, fire stations and tall city towers. The delight in his eyes when he finishes a construction is contagious, but Brian didn’t always build such fantastic things. Block building goes through stages of development, just like walking and talking do. Often times the finished product, like the towers, is far less important than the exiting process of building and then knocking them down.

Children need to learn how to use the blocks before they can build these creations. 18 month old Jacob is a perfect example of how block building starts. He lines up all of the wooden blocks over and over again. He hauls them around in giant bins or pushes them like a powerful bulldozer. Jake stacks them as high as he can reach and then gleefully sends his tower tumbling to the ground. The blocks are manipulated simply for the joy of doing it.

Once the child learns how blocks work, they pass into the same stage that three year old Chloe is in. She’s at the beginning stages of true building. The blocks will be placed in a large square, or built into a tall tumbling tower, but they are yet to be labeled as a pretty house or red brick fire station. She recognizes that they are buildings but she’s not quite ready to add the advanced pretend aspects to her constructions.

No matter what stage of development a particular child is in, despite their hard work, many still love to destroy their creations. That’s simply because the process is always more important than the product. It’s about the thrill of play, so play today and let the towers tumble!

Author: Emily Bloomquist, Early Childhood Education Student

When a child is displaced, their world is suddenly turned upside down. Familiar surroundings and faces are gone which can lead to feelings of fear and insecurity.

Here at New Community Harmony House, a transitional housing facility for homeless families located in Newark New Jersey, we recognize that children’s trauma needs to be addressed forthrightly and on their level. In addition to connecting families to the services of our Family Service Bureau which offers services such as counseling and therapy, our staff of professionals also recognize the importance of play.

Despite the trauma of their homelessness, it is important that children be allowed to still be children. They need socialization with other children and to be able to play. Through Second Chance Toys, children at Harmony House have been afforded the opportunity to do just that with donations of like-new toys including vanity sets, trucks and kitchen sets. They pretend and their vivid imaginations take them far away to places that seem far removed from the pressing problems their families may be facing.

Whether it’s coloring a picture or playing with a favorite toy, play becomes essential for a homeless child trying to deal with the loss of perhaps the only home they ever knew. Even the after-school program at Harmony House recognizes the importance of play, providing not only assistance with home work, but a time for children to just play and socialize. Some choose board games, while others gravitate to more action-packed activities like the Foosball table. The important thing is that they are playing, and play makes a world of difference.

Author: Diane Young-Garrett, Administrator of New Community Harmony House


Dreams are for bedrooms and bar stools, as I like to say. Working in social services means community and action.

Being a part of Gateway Community Action Partnership for 20 years has provided life lessons and given me opportunities to put career skills to practical use daily to benefit individuals and families who came to us for help.

The biggest lesson learned came from part of our agency’s title: Community and Action- two words that guide our every decision. We always need to be thinking of actions that we can take to improve our community. To me, Second Chance Toys embodies community action as well.

Second Chance Toys has become a valuable asset to us. They have networked with our community stores, schools, volunteer groups, and even called on our resources too.

What are the results of their efforts?

  • Eliminate landfills from filling with quality toys.
  • Encourage families to help other families through meaningful donations.
  • Empower students to volunteer for the greater good and see the value and impact of community service first hand.
  • Enlist businesses to help in ways they didn’t think possible.
  • Bring smiles, laughter, happiness and hope to children and their families.

Others may have thought to do these things, but Second Chance Toys actually did them. This is not just about handing out toys, this is about handing out hope. 

Social services mean helping people plan for a better and brighter future, but it also means providing help and hope in real and tangible ways right now. Help and hope that enable people to keep the faith until that better tomorrow is a reality.

Seeing the surprise and delight on children’s faces when they realize these dream toys are really theirs to keep leaves a mark, one that I call to mind on bad days when the rats seem to be winning the rat race. Seeing the parent’s appreciation is wonderful too, but the appreciation goes beyond the toys themselves. They have a look of hope, a look that says they know they are not alone with their struggles and that others are there to help.

The toys are meaningful and magical, but it is the sense of community in action that the toys represent that really matters.

Author: Michael Cudemo, Vice President/Planning at Gateway Community Action Partnership

Back to school is synonymous with packing lunches every day and one of the major dilemmas that parents face when it comes to lunch is plastics. Plastic lunch boxes, plastic snack and sandwich bags, plastic water bottles and plastic straws. At Second Chance Toys, we want to continue helping families move away from using so much plastic for food and water storage for kid’s lunches. Although we know plastics are cheap, lightweight, and easily replaceable, we also know that plastics can leach toxic materials into our kid’s lunches and have potential disastrous health affects years down the road. Let’s do our part to minimize plastics!

We are not contracted or aligned to any of the products we are about to mention. These products just seem like common sense and good quality when it comes to preparing school lunches and keeping our growing children healthy.

Let’s start with the lunchbox. One great choice for your little ones is the Kids Konserve Whimsy Snak Pack this lunch kit is BPA, lead, and phthalate-free, not to mention it’s really cute! It comes with a lunch bag that has a reusable sandwich bag and two reusable mini-stainless steel containers inside. Although they have plastic lids, being BPA, lead, and phthalate-free makes this an acceptable choice. If your child has a bigger appetite and needs more food storage, you can also purchase an additional set of mini-stainless steel containers, like this.

It may be a little pricey when you add it all up but you can be guaranteed that these will last the whole school year and beyond. Stainless steel presents a great replacement opportunity since it does not leach into food and is much lighter than using the glass containers sold at department stores. At home, we always use glass containers but when I sent my kids to school with them, they came home and told me the school banned glass.


Next, the young-ins need something to store a drink for lunch and maybe during class. Many of us have gone down the path of buying hundreds of juice boxes, only to realize that they end up in landfills and the contents aren’t always the best for our kids. They also can be quite pricey if you buy the better quality juices and drinks. If you want to save money, protect your kids health, and help clean up our environment, the best thing you can do is buy a stainless steel bottle, one for regular water they can sip during the day and one for either milk, nondairy drinks, or juice. If you really want to get fancy, you can buy one that is stainless steel and keeps the temperature of the contents. Drinks stay cool and soup or leftovers stay hot.

We like the Kids Konserve 12-Ounce Stainless Steel Insulated Food Jar for hot foods.

We also like the Thermos Tritan 12 Ounce Hydration Bottle (and it’s Superman design) for our boys  and the Thermos Funtainer Bottle (Hello Kitty design) for our girls.

You can check out and tell us which ones you like! Also, if you like these types of blog posts, please let us know. We’d love to share more. Happy Back to School!

Author: Kelly Eisenhardt, SCT Board Member & Environmental Professional