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Under the direction of Fran Miller, the Early Childhood Center at the Washington Hebrew Congregation once again collected hundreds of colorful plastic toys this holiday to be donated to Clifton Park Baptist Church for their community distribution. Randi Drewry at the church made sure that some of the toys were distributed to victims of the Long Branch apartment fire (pictured), as well as the New Hampshire Estates Elementary School, both in Silver Spring, MD.
Founded in 1921, Ridgewood Savings Bank operates 33 branches across Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, Long Island and Westchester County. Ridgewood is known for having a positive impact on its customers and the people in the communities where its branches are based.
Ridgewood Savings Bank has held two annual toy collections for us and they also selected Second Chance Toys as the charity for the money raised from their tote bag sale. We learned more from this Q&A with Domenico Ciaccio, Assistant Vice President and Community Reinvestment Officer at Ridgewood Savings Bank.
What is usually the criteria for Ridgewood when it comes to choosing a community project?
Ridgewood Savings Bank’s Domenico Ciaccio: Before choosing a community project, we research the organization to ensure the mission is in line with Ridgewood Savings Bank’s mission when it comes to community service. It is important for us to know that the community project has a positive effect. We also take suggestions from officers and employees of the bank.
How did Ridgewood first get involved with Second Chance Toys?
Domenico: We first found out about Second Chance Toys from one of our Branch Managers who hosted the second annual collection for SCT.
Where did the idea of the “Tote Sale” to benefit SCT come from?
Domenico: In order to promote the environment, we sell Ridgewood Savings Bank tote bags throughout our branch network. Every year we select a charity for the money raised through the sale of our tote bags. In the past, the bank donated the proceeds of the tote bag sales to Operation Splash, another environmentally-conscious charity
Is there something about what SCT does that strikes a chord with you personally?
Domenico: Ridgewood Savings Bank strongly believes that our children are our future, and SCT does a great job ensuring that children don’t have to go without toys just because their families can’t afford it. We also appreciate how environmentally-conscious your organization is.
SCT is environmentally-minded as a charity, looking to keep plastic out of local landfills. How is Ridgewood an environmentally-minded bank?
Domenico: We try our best here at Ridgewood Savings Bank to be environmentally-minded. We encourage our customers to sign up for e-statements and have taken steps within the organization in order to reduce the excess use of paper and electricity. Bank employees also volunteer their time with organizations that help the environment.
Finally, is there something you wish more people knew about Ridgewood?
Domenico: If there is one thing I wish more people knew about Ridgewood Savings Bank, it is how much we care about our communities. Ridgewood employees volunteer in food pantries, soup kitchens youth organizations, and senior centers. We help organize and prepare inventory of infant and toddler clothing, shoes, books, toys, etc. The bank also hosts numerous financial education workshops, First Time Homebuyer workshops, and senior identity theft prevention workshops at organizations throughout New York City.
More information on Ridgewood can be found at www.ridgewoodbank.com
Bronna Lipton, from Second Chance Toys, presented Uber with certificates of appreciation for their participation in the very successful Operation Toy Drive NYC. Uber offered a one-day FREE pickup of gently-used plastic toys to its customers in all 5 boroughs of NYC and in Hudson and Union Counties in NJ. Many thanks to Raquel Rosenberg (left) and Katie Dunn (right) for spearheading the respective efforts of Uber NY and Uber NJ to help hundreds of children in need and the environment!
In 2013 Danaya Dickson gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Dakoda. Like every mom, she wanted the best for her child, but it was difficult for her to make ends meet. So when Christmas rolled around that year, and for the next 2 years after that, Danaya was not able to provide her daughter with any gifts that were directly from her. Fortunately her extended family provided some gifts of their own.
This past Christmas was happily different! This year, Ms. Dickson was able to pick out several good-as-new plastic toys that were donated from Second Chance Toys to Babyland Family Services. Mr. Richard Whitten, director of Babyland Family Services, stated, “We had so many people from the community asking us for toys this year. If it were not for Second Chance Toys, we would have been in a pinch."
Among the toys Ms. Dickson selected for Dakoda, were a plastic alligator piano, a Lego block set, and a tea set. She is excited to use all of the toys to play and interact with her daughter. Danaya mentioned that she wants to put numbers and the letters of the alphabet on the Lego blocks, to help begin teaching her young child.
After the toys were picked out, they were wrapped up, and for the first time, Danaya Dickson was able to proudly put her own name on these precious gifts for her daughter. This was a happy holilday indeed!
As you can see from the photo, Edgemont Montessori School, Montclair, NJ amassed more than the 50 toys they originally thought they would collect. Montclair Child Development Center was the beneficiary of these good-as-new plastic toys. Dory Hack commented, "We thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity for Edgemont students to think about others' needs. Looking forward to doing it again next year!"
For a sixth consecutive year, Tashua Elementary School in Trumbull, CT collected toys for those in need. As a result of their time and energy, 300 beautiful plastic toys were donated to Community Closet in Bridgeport. Thank you Jim Sullivan and all the students at Tashua for your consistent donations year after year!!
NYC Department of Sanitation Commissioner, Kathryn Garcia, gave her support at Operation Toy Drive NYC's kick-off. As a part of the drive, Kidville collected and cleaned all the toys, Uber provided a day of free pickups, and 1-800-GOT-JUNK? delivered over 1,000 donated toys to organizations throughout NYC--toys that were saved from a trip to a landfill. All in all, it was a great team effort!
NYC Dept. of Sanitation Commissioner, Kathryn Garcia, at the kick-off
Operation Toy Drive NYC Team: L-R Raquel Rosenberg - Uber, Rammy Harwood- Kidiville,
Bronna Lipton-SCT, Ed Veloz and Domingo Rodriguez - 1-800-GOT-JUNK?
Picking out toys collected during Operation Toy Drive NYC
Toy donation, including the 250,000th toy donated, at Babyland Family Services, Inc. in Newark, NJ
Who would have ever thought that when Sasha Lipton began collecting toys back in 2006, and donated them to Babyland Family Services in Newark, that 10 years later Babyland would receive the 250,000th toy donated by Second Chance Toys!!
It started as a labor of love in 2006, when Sasha noticed all the colorful good-as-new plastic toys being tossed at the curb in her neighborhood. She not only wanted to help kids who were less fortunate, but realized the unnecessary waste headed for our landfills.
It was not easy getting the first organization to accept toys from a cold call by a high school student. Thank you Babyland Family Services for accepting our very first donation, recognizing the need we were fulfilling and giving us the conviction that this idea could take hold.
On this milestone donation of our 250,000th toy, a special thank you goes out to our amazing volunteers holding collections everywhere, and to 1-800- GOT-JUNK? that has volunteered time, trucks and manpower to pick up and deliver all of our large collections. Thank you for believing enough in our mission to give of your time to move us forward and help us grow.
Remaining toys being unloaded from the 1-800-GOT-JUNK? truck
Video here: https://youtu.be/qqRkxN2Mc_E
Second Chance Toys' Bronna Lipton stopped in to chat with Awestruck's #MomsWithAttitude, Snooki and JWOWW, about their toy collection and to explain how Second Chance Toys works. They also helped us celebrate our 250,000th donated toy!! Thanks to 1-800-GOT-JUNK? for transporting the toys!
This year we were happy to add Bright Beginnings Queens Village to our list of volunteers that collected toys for us....and they did a wonderful job!! Second Chance Toys matched them up with the National Association of University Women, who were distributing all kinds of goods to four different shelters in Queens including Acacia Network in Corona Shelter, LaGuardia Family Center, Camba The Landing, and Kings Inn. Thanks to Bright Beginnings, NAUW was able to include these beautiful good-as-new toys for the young children at the shelters and brighten the holidays. A great effort by all!!!
Some of the 500+ gently used plastic toys collected annually by Downingtown Area School District in PA. Thanks to 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, these toys are now in the hands of deserving children in the area!! Thank you, Downingtown Area School District, for your continued support!
Dentist Dr. Mariana Blagoev, in Parlin, NJ, is organizing a toy drive this holiday season that will surely put smiles on the faces of some deserving children in her community. In an effort to give back to the community, Blagoev is sponsoring a toy drive to make a difference in a child’s life during the holiday season.
Blagoev is encouraging the public to drop off new, unwrapped or lightly used toys at her office, Bright Smiles Dental, 1145 Bordentown Ave. in Parlin, NJ. Toy drop-off dates are now through Wednesday, Dec. 21, during office hours. All of the collected toys will be donated to Second Chance Toys.
“In a troubled economy that affects many Americans, the spirit of giving to others is needed more than ever,” Blagoev said in a news release. Individuals that participate in the toy drive will receive a free dental check-up, complete with an exam and X-rays. This way, locals get to help the needy while improving their own dental health. Blagoev is passionate about improving the lives of those in her community. She has also mobilized the community through charitable activities in the past, including food drives and other events.
Kidville was a integral part of making our Operation Toy Drive NYC such a success. They once again opened their facilities for drop-offs of over 1,000 toys (!), and in appreciation we presented a Certificate of Appreciation to each of the six Kidville locations in Manhattan that participated this year. Thank you, Kidville, for your continued support of Second Chance Toys!
Jill, a mom in Manhattan, drops off toys at Kidville
Carmen at Kidville Upper West Side
Brittany at Kidville Upper East Side
Naomi at Kidville Financial District
Bong at Kidville Murray Hill
Raffy, Mark, Mikayla, and Leona at Kidville Union Square
Ellen at Midtown West
Toys were collected and donated from PS6 students, family and friends grades PreK-5 in Staten Island. They collected race tracks, robots, dolls, action figures, dinosaurs, carriages, puzzles, plastic blocks, musical instruments, and play sets. Everyone had fun with the collection which was organized by PS 6 teacher, Eileen Loughran. These colorful toys were donated to the Jewish Renaissance Foundation for their breakfast with Santa toy giveaway in Perth Amboy. Thank you PS 6 for a job well done!!
McGinn Elementary School in Scotch Plains, NJ collected 824 beautiful toys during their gently used plastic toy collection. The fourth graders, pictured here, had so much fun helping to clean and inspect the toys and the school was able to activate firsthand the life lessons of giving and recycling for all the students who donated so generously. Thanks to PTA mom, Kelly Sacchetti, for organizing the entire drive. The toys went to Community Coordinated Childcare Agency in Rahway, NJ. Bravo to everyone for an amazing collection and bringing so much happiness to those in need!!
Last month, I had the honor of co-leading my daughter’s Daisies troop as they earned two badges – the Clove “Use Resources Wisely” badge and the Rosie “Make the World a Better Place” badge. In planning for the event, my co-leader and I agreed that we wanted the girls to have a hands-on experience with these themes; not just hear about them, but actually experience them. So, we set up a tour at a local nature center. But still, we wanted more for the girls to actively experience in terms of using resources wisely and making the world a better place. That’s where Second Chance Toys (SCT) came into play (pun intended). By asking each of our Daisies to donate one or more of their lightly used plastic toys to a child in need, we married the themes of the Rosie and Clove badges.
The Daisies were not only willing, but also excited to share their toys. In fact, one girl who forgot to bring her toy insisted that she bring it to my house the next day. They were determined to help re-use their toys and bring joy to children less fortunate. That sure sounds like wise resource management and making the world a better place to me!
I encourage other Daisies and the broader Girl Scout community to follow our lead. A Second Chance Toys collection is an easy add-on to your next troop meeting. Or perhaps you want to go bigger and plan an event around the December holidays or around Earth Day, engaging your local schools and other community organizations. Regardless, it’s a worthwhile undertaking. If you’re not sure you have the time or you’re wondering how to get started, please see tips from my previous blog:
and from other SCT collectors:
P.S. Apparently, this works for the Eagle Scouts too! http://www.secondchancetoys.org/blog/qa-about-eagle-scout-project-phil-s...
-Sherry Marin Altman, SCT Volunteer
People are inspired to volunteer and work with Second Chance Toys for a variety of reasons. Today we hear from one of our Board Members, Leslie Leventman, on what makes working with children in need so important to her:
As the holidays approach, with all the beautiful imagery and sounds of the season, I reach back to my childhood memories. I have indelible memories of the lessons that my mother taught me. She always said that “giving is its own reward.”
My mother was such a kind and caring individual. She was a product of the Great Depression and a member of the World War II Generation, who used ration coupons for food. My mother often spoke to me about those very difficult years and what it was like living in poverty. It was a painful reflection for her -- even in her early 90's. Fortunately, she had a very loving and close knit family, and together they weathered those extremely difficult years.
Despite her family hardships, my mother always knew how fortunate she was to have a doll and a pair of roller-skates as a child, and to experience the joy that these toys brought to her life. These two toys gave her childhood meaning, expression, creativity and room to dream. In fact, she might have missed out on all of those joyful times without them. However, she never forgot the meaning of those toys her entire life. This, I believe, ultimately led her to pursue a career in social service. As an adult, my mother became a social worker helping people in need. During the holidays my mother and her co-workers made baskets for the less fortunate, and delivered them to the neediest families. The focus of our holidays, as a family, was always to help those in need, and to “give back” to the best of your ability.
This is why the mission of Second Chance Toys resonates so deeply with me, and why I am a member of its Board. The mission of Second Chance Toys is to help a child in need feel important and cared for, by providing toys that will allow them to be children. To dream, to play, and be in the moment of learning and wonder! Toys are so critical to a child's development. By giving a toy to a child, you are providing that child unbridled joy, a learning tool, and sweet memories-- all in one. And this is a blessing which will surely last a lifetime.
My mother, Gladys Leventman, passed away this past March, at the age of 92. I will always honor and cherish her memory by remembering the needs of children who are less fortunate, by putting a smile on their faces with a joyful holiday toy.
Best wishes to all for a wonderful holiday season!
This holiday season, Uber, in conjunction with Kidville and 1-800- GOT-JUNK?, will make it easier than ever to donate gently-used plastic toys in the 5 boroughs of NYC and in Hudson and Union Counties in NJ. On Saturday, December 10th, from 10am-4pm, with the tap of a button, a driver will pick up your gently-used plastic toys and deliver them FREE to one of the 6 Kidville locations throughout Manhattan. There, the toys will be cleaned and prepared for pickup by 1-800- GOT-JUNK? who will transport the toys to local organizations that serve children in need.
In the NY Metropolitan area alone, Second Chance Toys has requests for over 40,000 toys. "We are happy to provide this free service that will not only make it simple for parents to donate their toys, but it will encourage many more toys to be donated for all the deserving children this holiday,” stated Raquel Rosenberg, Marketing Manager at Uber. Toys will be inspected for parts and cleaned by families and volunteers on Sunday, December 11th at 6 Kidville locations around Manhattan. Rammy Harwood, President of Kidville, stated, “We are thrilled to offer this opportunity to our parents and children so they can experience firsthand the life lessons of community service and giving back."
On Monday, December 12th, a mere 48 hours later, the toys will be picked up by 1-800- GOT-JUNK? and transported to multiple organizations throughout the city. “I can’t think of a better way to give back during the holidays than by delivering thousands of toys and putting smiles on the faces of as many children,” added Cameron Robinson, General Manager, 1-800- GOT-JUNK?.
They say it takes a village, and Operation Toy Drive NYC, powered by Uber, will be demonstrating just that this December! Start gathering your toys!!
In our last Toy Tales story we hear again from Elva Guevara, the Executive Director of United Yes We Can- Unidos Si Se Puede.
This Toy Tale is about a young girl named Luz, a special needs child, who received a musical princess table from Second Chance Toys. Upon receiving the toy, Luz had tears running down her face and said that it was the “biggest and prettiest gift” she ever received. This was a very special moment for her that day, and the table continues to have special meaning. Several weeks later, her mother, Onesima, expressed her own joy to me personally. When Luz has an anxiety attack, her mom discovered that her daughter starts to calm down when seated at her princess table and she begins to play. This toy has truly been a blessing for them both.
Toys are more important than meets the eye. We are so grateful for Second Chance Toys and look forward to their generosity this holiday season as well.