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Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and that means it's toy collecting season! Information and the sign-up can be found here. Below, we've got some wonderful tips from a seasoned toy collector on just how to go about it--and more importantly, just how easy it can be!
Be sure to share your toy collection photos and updates along the way by using the hastags #toysforgood and #secondchancetoys on social media. We'll see you out there!
My Experience Running Second Chance Toys Collections – If I can do it, so can you…
Last year I organized three collections for Second Chance Toys. They were three different experiences not only in terms of different tactics and timing, but also location – one was at a school during the winter holiday season, one at a community center on Earth Day, and one in a corporate office.
In spite of those differences, all three collections went well. And in all three cases, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy this was to do; a relatively small effort generated an outsized return in terms of educating children, keeping plastics out of landfills, and giving back to local communities.
The following are some quick tips I’ve taken away from my experience organizing SCT collections. I hope these help those of you who are already planning to run collections this year – and I hope they encourage those of you who are intrigued by SCT but might be thinking, “I don’t have time to do this myself. I wish someone else would organize one in my community.” If I can do it, so can you…
(A quick point of context – I am a mother of three young children, and I work full-time in a corporate management position. Thus, my emphasis on keeping this simple. You too can do it, really!).
Don’t overthink it, and don’t be daunted by the task
Running an SCT collection does not take months of planning, nor a committee of volunteers. In fact, two of my collections were organized with just a few weeks of lead time. Sure, it would be better to have a little more time to publicize an event, and in some cases (see point #2 below) you’ll need to get school permissions much earlier, but the point is that it can be done with whatever time and resources you have available.
Take advantage of the kits that SCT makes available – they have flyers, e-mail messages, and toy tags already crafted. They can also help to line up the recipient organization and trucking/logistics. They also provide instructions for how to run an event and which supplies to bring (As far as supplies go, I believe I boiled it down to large garbage bags and wipes. Again, pretty simple!).
Ping the PTA, School Director, or Facilities Director early
They get a ton of requests for events at the school, so even if your PTA or school administrators think it’s a great idea, they may have to say “no” if the schedule is already full for the upcoming year. On the other hand, don’t stop if they say “no.” You can run a collection with or without them.
For one of my collections, I was fortunate to get the school’s director onboard as a very enthusiastic champion (despite the fact that I contacted her just one month before the holiday collection event!). She really took over from there, organizing the space, bringing supplies, and publicizing the event.
In contrast, at my other event, the school/PTA had to say “no.” So I quickly shifted gears, and set up the collection at a nearby community center (it took just one e-mail to someone in the community to get permission). We did that event before school on the morning of Earth Day with coffee, hot chocolate and donuts as a treat for the attending parents and children. It was a fun gathering, and a novelty for the kids to see one another before school.
P.S. It helps to have a playground next to your collection area!
Recruit your friends, make it personal
In addition to publicizing your collection event via mass e-mail lists and flyers posted in prominent community areas, lock-in some participation by recruiting your children’s friends and their parents or some of your co-workers – I sent quick personalized notes that did the trick.
Unlike other fundraisers, this is a pretty comfortable ask; after all, you’re not asking anyone to shell out money or buy your kid’s cookies (I’ve always felt uncomfortable obligating friends and co-workers to participate in those fundraisers). But in this case, you’re simply asking them to donate items they no longer use or need; in fact, they may even thank you for giving them impetus to finally de-clutter that old playroom.
Follow the truck if you can
At the end of my first collection event, I decided to follow the 1-800-GOT-JUNK? truck to the site of the organization that would be receiving our donated toys. And boy was I glad I did! It’s one thing to know that you’re donating to children in need. It’s another to see it first-hand. I was moved, to say the least. It gave me pause in what would otherwise be a run-of-the-mill day, consumed by frivolous work issues and artificial stressors. I was blown away by the Director of the Mission, who invited me in for a tour and showed me around with deep pride and with a humbling story about how he worked his way from homelessness to holding the keys to this great facility. He assured me that our toys would be greatly appreciated by the families and children who depend on the mission.
I first came across Second Chance Toys about one year ago, by chance, as I was searching online for something else. I loved the premise of SCT from the moment I read about it.
Over the years, with each passing birthday and holiday season, I’ve watched as my children unwrap far too many toys -- and while I appreciate the generosity of our friends and family, I also cringe at the piles of plastic parts accumulating in my home; toys thrown astray after their fun has worn off.
I know these toys have a longer life to live, and Second Chance Toys is an opportunity to take action; we can all reduce environmental impacts while also bringing the joy of toys to children in need.
-Sherry Marin Altman, SCT Volunteer
Second Chance Toys is blessed to not only have a lot of supporters, but many long-standing people who regularly contribute time and other resources to the organization. One such supporter is Alan Branfman from Temple Shaaray Tefila, located at 250 Est 79th Street in Manhattan. The congregation can also be visited online.
Alan, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, first learned the importance of community-oriented volunteer work during his college days. He was a volunteer at the University in a 4-year recreation program for mentally challenged adults and teens. After his college years, he moved to Roxbury, Mass., where he was a paid teacher-coach-facilitator for Volunteers In Service To America (V.I.S.T.A.). He worked daily in a Head Start Center and then in the afternoons he coached young teen boys in athletic programs and took them all around Boston, acquainting them with various cultural institutions that are so much in abundance in the city of Boston.
Whether this is all rooted within the concept of "tikkun olam", Alan has proven to be someone who helps others on a regular basis.
I had the pleasure of conducting a Q & A with Alan for the SCT Blog. Alan explained to me during our exchange that the movie "STAND AND DELIVER" was especially inspiring to him. When pairing that film's message with the mission of Second Chance Toys, he felt as if had found a new mission in life.
How did you find out about Second Chance Toys?
Alan Branfman: I initially found out about SCT from Alan Goldberg, also a member of Shaaray Tefila. About 9 years ago, he asked me if I would be interested in collecting gently-used plastic toys from members of the temple, in order to donate them to children in need, and keep them out of recycling dumps as long as possible.
We collected a great amount of gently-used plastic toys. I always enjoyed doing this around the holidays each year, for sure. Alan Goldberg moved out of town, and I have been doing this project on my own, with the splendid guidance and assistance and contributions from the people at our synagogue. I expect to continue in this vein, hopefully, for much time to come!
What is your favorite thing about working with our organization?
Alan: my favorite aspect of working with SCT is that they do what they say that are going to do--always! They tell me when to expect the pick-up truck on or around Dec. l9th each year, and the truck invariably arrives always precisely on time. We load the toys onto the truck sent by l-800-GOT-JUNK? and they take the items to the destination so designated.
In the past few years, I opted to travel to a school on Manhattan's Lower East Side, where the toys were distributed at a ceremony presided over by an inspiring NY Giants football starting player. I enjoyed this piece of the ceremony immensely. I then traveled the next year to a Head Start Center in East Harlem, which was great. This past year, SCT found a very suitable Head Start Center that was quite responsive and, the distribution ceremony was very moving. I hope to interact at this facility many times in the future! Great, good people!
It has been a very on-time, well-selected time frame that these events have unfurled around the Chanukah/Christmas season. Second Chance Toys has never failed to set things up professionally and be quite responsive to the needs of the place where the children receive the toys.And, they have coincided wonderfully with Shaaray Tefila's collection schedule.
Do "Green Initiatives" factor into your daily life at all?
Alan: Green initiatives are all around us, for sure. Whether it be discarding waste products in a recycling situation, or working to improve a street's appearance or a building's facade- outside and in-- with newer technologies. I am totally in synch with these types of undertakings. I don't specifically claim to have innate knowledge of the many facets of green technology that is abounding more loudly and distinctly in our environment. But, the fact that the new technologies are predominating more and more in our society augurs well for a cleaner, healthier environment that we all strive to have and hope for in the decades ahead.
Our children and future grandchildren deserve to have the cleanest atmosphere possible. I would expect that Second Chance Toys, with its emphasis on cleaning up the world we live in by putting off the disposal of plastic toys through their collection activities-- will flourish more and more in the short and long term, as its stated goals become even better known.
Does the Shaaray Tefila Synagogue have other causes that it champions?
Alan: Shaaray Tefila has many, many other causes is advances very well. Firstly-- they do also collect items a few times a year for Jewish soldiers who are stationed overseas. They are in areas in which the U.S. military has placed these men and women all over the world. Such items as clothing, toiletries, books, are all shared with these brave soldiers throughout the world.
Secondly, they have a "Mitzvah Weekend" at least two times a year. I have done some volunteering in this area-- where people fan out throughout the 5 boroughs. We visit some senior centers, and spend time with seniors in their home environments at the centers.
Thirdly, the synagogue is embarking on a very significant program that will provide meals for school children who experience a deficit of food here in the city each and every day. This has been named "Backpack Buddies", which will be working diligently to include more and more meals each year ahead for these students.
Another program is a soup kitchen, which has been operational for years and years at the synagogue. Volunteers work once a week at the temple in one of the main rooms on the ground floor, providing meals for neighborhood people that are served with no strings attached.
I could go on and on about what the synagogue does on a yearly basis. Suffice to say, it is a strong community-oriented place , with many outreach programs of all stripes and varieties. We look forward to many more years working alongside Second Chance Toys!
Thankfully, my three-year-old son doesn't have a very strong opinion about what to dress up as on Halloween. This year he/we decided that he'd be one of his favorite book characters, Waldo of Where's Waldo fame. A pretty easy costume. Just needed a knit hat from a very talented family friend, some round glasses, and the most essenital item--Waldo's trademark red and white striped shirt. We had to order the shirt and glasses online. Thought it'd be no big deal, but we had our first Halloween party today (10 days before Halloween) and we were short one item. The shirt. There's really no Waldo costume without the shirt. So, after didn't come in yesterday's mail, we had to scramble and find something from what we already had at the house.
My son's reused costume came together quite nicely. He was a skeleton paleontologist. Just as cute as Waldo, I think! As we searched through the house, I realized just how many potential costumes we had lying around the house. A pretend play doctor outfit, a fleecy one-piece lion/bear outfit, a train conductor hat and overalls. But the skeleton sleep outfit that's a size too small combined with the dress-up paleontologist set proved the perfect combination.
Next year, instead of ordering new, I'm going to try to take a look around the house and see what clever and fun costumes we can come up with. It's a good challenge and there's certainly more pride of ownership when you create it on your own!
My son in his "Skeleton Paleontologist" outfit
Author: Kate Bevins, mom to James (3)
Author: Shreya Shankar, mother and SCT Volunteer
The notion that the world is becoming a smaller place is not a new one. Nevertheless, having lived and worked in three different continents and now bringing up our toddler in New York, some of the questions my husband and I find ourselves asking each other are:
-How can we best prepare our son for this new interconnected world?
-How do we raise an empathetic, globally-aware child?
-And, in a world filled with prejudices, how do we teach him to appreciate different countries, cultures and people?
I would love to share with you some ideas that we have read about -- or come up with -- and hope to incorporate in our home.
1. Develop empathy through books and toys
From a board book for your toddler to a novel for your pre-teen, try and be thoughtful about the books you select. Look for stories that incorporate diverse characters from different countries, cultures, religions and races. Look for anthologies that compile fairy tales and folk tales from around the world. Your local library could prove to be a great resource as well. We are still building a library for our little one, but a few books I have come across and liked are:
The Cat's Elopement
The Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor
How the Tiger Got His Stripes
The First Strawberries
The Tortoise and the Geese (from the Panchatantra)
The Old Man and the Fig
As your child grows older, there are some wonderful board games from around the world that you could incorporate in your family game night or slumber parties like:
Pallankuzhi (like Mancala)
LudoAchi (think: cross and knots)
Fox & Geese
Carrom (a table game)
2. Global Gourmet
Another wonderful way of introducing your child to different countries is through food. For special Friday night dinners, plan (well!) ahead of time. Let your children choose a country, visit a grocery store that carries a variety of ethnic groceries and prepare something different from your usual fare. Think falafels, sushi, chicken (or vegetable) tikka, injira, dosas, tapas or pierogi!
If cooking is difficult for you, dine out at ethnic restaurants every few months and talk about the country whose cuisine you are sampling. You can ask questions like these:
-What's the weather like?
-What animals would you find there?
-If you visited, what would you pack and what would you do there?
3. Familiar customs with a twist
Another fun way to introduce your child to different countries and cultures is by incorporating them in various customs that they are already familiar with. For instance, take the tooth fairy custom, with each subsequent tooth, I'd love to replace the American Dollar with currency from a different country along with a letter from the tooth fairy with information about the country she just flew in from!
4. Infuse your home with global music
"Where Words Fail, Music Speaks.” I believe it was the very beloved storyteller, Hans Christian Andersen, who once said this.
Pandora, Spotify and other musical outlets today have a host of beautiful music from around the world. Expose your children to the beats, rhythms and instruments of different worlds. Dance around the house, Attempt to learn the chorus and sing along!
If you'd like, go the extra step and buy some simple instruments from different countries. Let your kids enjoy the sounds that will hopefully transport them to another time and place.
This one is fairly straight-forward -- make learning a second language a priority. There are few better ways to immerse oneself in a different country (from your own home!) than learning a new language. Duolingo is a free app for smartphones and tablets with more than a dozen languages to study.
For slightly-older children, build awareness about the issues that different countries are facing today. Talk about them at dinner-time, listen to their viewpoints, encourage volunteering for different causes that they might feel strongly about, try and incorporate ones that transcend borders and are global in nature.
7. Watch a foreign film
There are some beautiful movies from filmmakers around the world available through Netflix. This is better suited for older children, but a few of the titles that I hope to introduce to my son once he is older are:
Au Revoir Les Enfants
Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Kirikou and the Sorceress
The Cave of the Yellow Dog
Life is Beautiful
The Motorcycle Diaries
The Lives of Others
As the saying goes, it takes a village, and in the case of Second Chance Toys, that village is full of bright, energetic and talented people who make a difference. One of those people is Craig Scott, the Founder and CEO of CHS Ventures who also serves on SCT’s Board of Directors. Craig has been involved with our organization for more than eight years, making things happen throughout Pennsylvania and well beyond.
Craig – who was named CEO of the Year at the Philadelphia Business Journal Life Sciences Awards in 2010 – is not the only Scott involved with our organization. In fact, his whole family is actively involved.
How did you first find out about Second Chance Toys?
CHS Ventures’ Craig Scott: My children and I started up Second Chance Toys in Pennsylvania in 2007. Kyle and Cara were young teenagers and we had seen what Sasha, Bronna and Shelly Lipton were starting to do with Second Chance Toys in New Jersey and thought “this is a fabulous idea.” We wanted to be part of it and thought we could make a big difference for the environment and for deserving kids in our hometown near Philadelphia.
What is it about the organization that keeps you such a loyal contributor?
Craig: Second Chance Toys is a genuine labor of love for me. Our family has always been community-minded and we look for opportunities to help others in need. I thought the Second Chance Toys concept was brilliant. We help the environment by recycling gently-used plastic toys and keeping them out of the landfills. And then help less fortunate kids by donating these really great toys to them during Earth Week and the holiday season. As tough as life is for so many out there, our toys mean a lot to the kids and families we serve.
It touches me to see the result of our efforts, and I think we are imparting terrific life lessons all along the way from collecting the toys from those who have them to giving them away to those who need them. As a parent, it was really important to me that my children learned about being responsible to others. We need to take care of the Earth, and we need to take care of others who have less than we are lucky to have. I am loyal to Second Chance Toys because I believe in our mission and there is a lot more important work to be done!
Has the growth of Second Chance Toys surprised you?
Craig: The growth of Second Chance Toys has been astounding, but I am really not surprised that it has taken off the way that it has. My kids and I started this as a grassroots effort in Philadelphia out of the back of our family minivan. We would literally drive miles to pick up bags of toys from parents and grandparents whose kids had outgrown the toys or who were doing spring cleaning. Then, we would find organizations which served disadvantaged kids and organize a donation.
We gained a lot of local attention, momentum and support for our local efforts, and so many wonderful people and organizations have stepped up and pitched in to help Second Chance Toys grow. We’ve conducted toy drives with elementary schools, churches, synagogues, groups of boy and girl scouts, large corporate partners and even professional sports teams.
Today, we are a growing 501(C)(3) charity, trying to raise money to expand our efforts across the country and across the world. We’ve already donated over 200,000 gently-used and recycled plastic toys to deserving kids across the country and in Australia, too!
Do you have a favorite memory related to the work you've done with Second Chance Toys?
Craig: I have a lot of favorite Second Chance Toys memories. Some are big. Some are little. For example, we teamed up with the Philadelphia Phillies during Earth Week a few years ago for a promotion and all the fans were invited to donate their gently-used plastic toys to Second Chance Toys stations at Citizens Bank Park. Another time, we were covered by National Public Radio one Christmas season. Their story was broadcast on national radio on Christmas Day. NPR told of how we collected toys through a youth group at a local church and we stored the hundreds of toys in my garage, later to be shined up and given away to low income children in North Philadelphia. My kids were interviewed for that story, so that was really fun.
But my most favorite memories were the smaller, more intimate ones. We used to support Trinidad Head Start in North Philadelphia. Year after year, we would show up for their holiday performance. All these cute little kids of every shape, size and color would perform songs and dances for their families, teachers and us. Then, each kid would have the chance to walk into a separate room to pick out a Second Chance Toy of their choice. And believe me, they tiptoed around that room like these toys were jewels at Tiffany’s. They were always so appreciative of this gesture of holiday love and it gets me, even now, to tell the story. It’s a beautiful thing. Trust me.
How can our readers help Second Chance Toys?
Craig: Your readers can check us out and get involved with our cause via our website: www.secondchancetoys.org. I am on the Second Chance Toys Board of Directors, and we have written a strategic plan to support our future growth. We want to expand to major metropolitan areas across the country because that is where there are the most kids in need and the most environmental problems. We are hoping to find corporate sponsors in these cities to donate to our cause so that we can continue to expand our good work in their communities. Of course, we are also always looking to collect more great toys and identify more organizations serving disadvantaged children. It is really rewarding to be part of Second Chance Toys, whether you or your company are giving your time, your toys, your money or your ideas. So please get involved. Check us out. Give generously and tell your friends and families about us, too.
Author: Darren Paltrowitz, Music & Media Licensing at Viacom
As the saying goes, one man’s junk can be another man’s gold. In the case of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, a fellow environmentally-minded company, the “junk” of their customers often includes toys which Second Chance Toys can help donate to people in need. Beyond collecting items, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? has also been an effective partner for SCT in providing transportation, storage and other logistical help which it did not previously have available.
I had the chance to speak to Drew Trautman, a franchise owner of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, about his long-standing collaboration with Second Chance Toys. While the enthusiasm of both parties may read like a mutual appreciation society in our Q&A, it comes to show how what comes easily to one organization can actually go on to regularly benefit thousands of people.
How did you first learn about Second Chance Toys?
1-800-GOT-JUNK?’s Drew Trautman: I was reading the blog of a business contact, a local Chamber Of Commerce friend, who was highlighting Second Chance Toys. This was in 2007 or 2008. At the time I was just opening my 1-800-GOT-JUNK? franchise and was constantly on the lookout for resources to donate and recycle some of the items we picked up during the normal course of our daily business. The response from SCT at the time was that they were operating out of their home/garage and weren’t in the position to store or accept toys! But, the mission and vision of SCT’s was in line with the values we have at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, and thus after talking to them, we decided to do what we could to help further the organization!
What led to you getting involved with SCT? Where did the creative idea for being a source of transportation that also collects donations come from?
Drew: After talking to the founder Sasha Lipton, the main issue that the organization was having at the time was transportation of toys. Second Chance Toys had the groups that wanted to donate, and the organizations working with kids that wanted to receive, but they needed to connect those dots. 1-800-GOT-JUNK? fit in naturally to help rescue these toys and take them to kids that can use them!
As a company known for its green initiatives, when did you personally first get involved with recycling and reusing items? Was recycling part of your childhood?
Drew: As the son in a military family, we grew up moving around a lot, without a ton of money and without a ton of stuff. I remember being as young as five years old and “going junking” with my mom and dad when we lived in Germany. We would go around to the towns that had “bulk pickups” and see what, if anything, we could find to use. My parents still have some really neat antique pieces in their home from those adventures!
Fast forward to college, where I received a degree in Economics with a minor in Environmental Sciences, which I thought I’d use to become an Environmental Lawyer and save the world. I ended up with a 1-800-GOT-JUNK? franchise and couldn’t be happier. Recycling, reusing and finding alternatives to the landfill are a part of what we do every day. So, the green side of me -- and the business -- has been with me since I can remember!
Aside from SCT, who are the people or organizations which 1-800-GOT-JUNK? helps out the most?
Drew: It varies from franchise to franchise but everyone is involved in their communities. Locally, we sponsor the Susan G. Komen North Jersey Race for the Cure and the NYC Aids Walk each year. We also donate to Goodwill, Salvation Army and Furniture Assist on a daily or weekly basis.
What is your favorite thing about 1-800-GOT-JUNK? as a company? Is there something you wish more people knew about it? Something that makes it different from other removal companies?
Drew: Without question, my favorite part of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? is the people. I have been involved with the company now for over 10 years, and during that time I have met people who are now some of my best friends. Brian Scudamore, the founder and CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, is well-known for saying that “it’s all about people.” It’s not just a catchy phrase, it’s a vein that runs throughout the organization’s culture and practices. I wish everyone had the chance to visit a franchise or tour the corporate headquarters, which is called the Junktion -- and they actually do run tours! It is truly a special place, made up of amazing people, and the energy there is palpable.
Are there any upcoming events 1-800-GOT-JUNK? is involved with which you'd like to let our readers know about?
Drew: We are excited to be planning for another SCT toy drive in the holiday season. We also continue to donate to local branches of Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Furniture Assist.
Author: Darren Paltrowitz, Music & Media Licensing at Viacom
Second Chance Toys is proud to announce that we are now an official member of ReuseNYC.
ReuseNYC is an association of NYC nonprofits that accept and redistribute donated goods. Their mission is to support their member organizations and promote the social, environmental, and economic benefits reuse provides local communities.
Based in New Jersey, the River Edge Green Team regularly does a whole lot of good for a whole lot of people. Focused on environmental actions that will lead to a cleaner community, the Green Team was state-certified as part of the Sustainable Jersey program in 2013. Naturally, the Green Team is a great fit for Second Chance Toys, having recently collaborated with us on a toy drive.
Bonnie Stewart from the River Edge Green Team Committee took the time to answer some questions about her group of volunteers, how she came to be involved with SCT, and what lies ahead for the Green Team.
How would you describe the River Edge Green Team to someone who isn't familiar?
The River Edge Green Team’s Bonnie Stewart: The RE Green Team is a group of volunteers that work on projects to promote greener living and habits. We strive to make other aware of things they can do to make our environment a better and healthier place to live. We try to encourage the younger people to be aware of how small changes can have a big impact.
The Green Team became certified as part of Sustainable Jersey a few years back. What did that process entail?
Bonnie: Becoming certified is a lot of work. Our Green Team needed to pick projects to work on to give us points towards certification. Once you have enough points you get certified, you need to document everything and upload pictures and paperwork to prove the projects were done. Second Chance Toys is one example of that. It also involves the Mayor and council and other organizations in town such as the Shade Tree Commission and Environmental Commission. Many volunteers such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts help a lot.
How long have you been involved with the Green Team?
Bonnie: I have been with the Green Team since it started in 2009.
What made you decide to volunteer with SCT?
Bonnie: Well, one of our members saw Jennifer [Cournoyer, Operations Manager] on TV and we all voted that it would be a great idea. I think we all had plastic toys around our homes that we didn’t know what to do with and didn’t want to throw them away. You all made it so easy that we really want to do it again next year. We got great feedback from the community. They couldn’t bring all their toys, so they wanted to make sure that if we did another one, they would hold the toys until next one.
What is the best thing about volunteering with SCT?
Bonnie: Well, of course it was seeing the kids get the toys and knowing we were making them happy. Also, knowing the toys didn’t go into the oceans and landfills. Our team collected nearly 1,000 toys.
What tips would you give other volunteer groups to help their collections go so well?
Bonnie: I would say to advertise and get the word out. Some of our members are on the Board of Ed and they were able to do e-mail blasts several times. We also had two young volunteer teenagers and they were in charge of making the flyers to hang up in town. Social media is a huge way to get the word out to your friends and family as well.
Do you have any collaborative events with Second Chance Toys coming up?
Bonnie: We hope to do a toy drive again in April 2016.
Who specifically do donations to River Edge Green Team for Second Chance Toys go to and help?
Bonnie: A day care center and families in Paterson, NJ.
Aside from your work with SCT, what is the best way that someone can help your local community?
Bonnie: Any time residents get involved in community is a good thing. The next projects we are working on are towards certification for sustainable schools. Community gardens at schools, helping children and parents be aware of simple actions that can be taken can have a big impact on the future. Organizing projects in schools and in town in ways that get the word out about being more sustainable. Whether it’s more recycling or new projects in town, just making people aware is very important. We always try to be present at town events such as our farmer’s market each week or River Edge day in October.
Author: Darren Paltrowitz, Music & Media Licensing at Viacom
Debra Miller, a Philadelphia-based teacher and enthusiastic supporter of Second Chance Toys, generously took some time to answer some questions about how SCT makes a difference in the lives on her students.
As Ms. Miller explains below, every little bit helps in the classroom, as oftentimes school districts cannot afford to provide all of the resources needed for and by students.
What did you wish more people knew about teachers and the overall profession today?
Debra Miller: I wish people understood how hard teachers work. It's not just the hours in the classroom. It's planning and individualizing lessons so that each child gets the information in ways that are easy for them to comprehend. Children come into a classroom with different levels of what they know. Some children have been exposed to things outside their neighborhood while other live their life in a six block radius and never experience anything different. It takes a lot of time at home to coordinate lessons and teach individually and in small groups, which is what the district is moving to.
How did you first learn about Second Chance Toys?
D: I received a letter in the mail from Craig Scott and his children about 10 years ago when they were first starting Second Chance Toys. I was the Head Teacher at a school district of Philadelphia, a site of Head Start. We had 114 children, all low income in the middle of North Philadelphia. Any donation we received was greatly appreciated.
When did you first get involved with Second Chance Toys?
D: I responded and spoke to Mr. Scott. His involvement was tremendous. We arranged for a toy delivery for Christmas. The 1-800-GOT-JUNK? Truck arrived with bags and bags and bags and bags of toys. We were able to fill up an entire room with toys for the children to come in and select any toy they wanted. I cannot tell you how wonderful it was. The looks on the children's faces and their pride in their selection was amazing. This participation continued for the next eight years until the school district closed that site. I contacted Mr. Scott to let him know that Trinidad had closed and I was now at another Head Start in an elementary school. He was so nice to continue the generous donations at my new location.
What is your favorite part about being involved with Second Chance Toys?
D: This is a wonderful team of people that work tirelessly to ensure that low income children receive good quality recycled toys that are brand new toys to them. Many of these children come from single parent households with many brothers and sisters, and have little money left to buy toys. My classroom children receive toys every year.
Is there a toy or item that's been donated that has especially meant a lot?
D: We had a little boy this year who was extremely developmentally-delayed, and had no communicable language, along with several other special needs. We received a multi-purpose play cube that contained a bead on three different wires that were curly, humpy, windy, on one side, another side of the cube had different shapes that spun around, another side had bells, and buttons and knobs to turn and each one created another sound, and so on. We knew this was the perfect toy for this child. He sat for an hour on the floor after he received it just playing and exploring. It was the longest time he sat still and focused on anything for that long.
What sorts of items are most useful to receive in donation drives?
D: Anything. Remember , most of these children have nothing. The girls love kitchens, doll houses, carriages, anything Dora and Barbie. The boys love cars and trucks and basketball hoops, and Spiderman and Batman, bikes. But truly just anything they get to pick and take home and call their own is enough for them.
Finally, how can someone be most helpful to a teacher like yourself?
D: Teachers have very little supplies and buy most of the things for their classrooms and necessities for their children themselves. I buy my children pencils, composition books, pencil boxes every September, and throughout the year we buy supplies to enhance our lessons. There are never enough books in a classroom for the children to read and take home and love. A teacher is grateful for any donations, she will always find a use for anything.
Author: Darren Paltrowitz, Music & Media Licensing at Viacom
It's summer! Here are a few tips to enjoy time outdoors in a ecologically responsible way.
1. Garden. Show kids where food comes from by establishing your own garden. Even the smallest of spaces can be home to a few containers for growing herbs, lettuce, or even tomatoes. For bigger areas, plant fun things like blueberries and strawberries that kids already enjoy. And try out some others that your kids might not "like"-- sometimes seeing and waching how something grows will spur a child to give it a try when it's on their plate!
2. Seek out water. Instead of sitting inside with the A/C running, head to a nearby lake, beach, or river and enjoy some time splashing there. Make sure to turn your thermostat up while you're out so it isn't running unneccessarily. (Most recommendations are to set your A/C to 75 while you're home, and a few degrees higher if you'll be leaving. On the other hand, setting the heat to 68 in the winter is a common recommendation.) Visiting lakes, beaches, and splash pads instead of running the sprinkler or filling a baby pool will save you and the Earth lots of water!
3. Explore your yard and neighborhood. Grab a jar and try to find insects in your own yard. See what you can find! When night comes, catch fireflies with a net and place them in a jar and watch them light up. Remember to put some grass and leaves in the jar, a wet paper towel to keep the air humid, and be sure to poke a few holes at the top. Release the bugs when you're done watching them. If bugs aren't your thing, search your neighborhood for native flowers. Bring along pencils and a pad of paper to draw your favorites. Try not to pick any, since wildflowers are a vital part of the ecosystem.
Have a great summer!
It's been a busy few weeks here! We're excited to announce that Earth Week 2015 collections totaled 10,000 toys. That's 10,000 toys in the hands of children in need, rather than taking up space in a landfill. That's roughly 20 TONS of plastic saved! A special thank you to all of our volunteers and to our partners at 1-800-GOT-JUNK, Kidville, Kohl's, and Viacom. Let's do it again next year!
The outstanding team at Viacom never ceases to amaze us! Our third annual Viacommunity Day partnership went off without a hitch. The volunteers showed up full of energy, ready and excited to prep close to 1,000 gently used plastic toys for local kids in need.
100 Viacom associates volunteered to spend the day cleaning, tagging and bagging all of the toys that were collected at 10 participating Kidville drop-off locations across the city.
The Second Chance Toys DJ had the crowd dancing as they moved from station to station making sure each toy was spotless and ready to go. It didn’t stop there-- the volunteers created posters and wrote messages to the recipients on hang tags that were tied to each toy so the love could be spread from the Viacom White Box in Times Square, throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn before the last donation stop in the Bronx.
We had an outstanding amount of support come through during the event—
Viacom CEO, Philippe Dauman, and COO, Tom Dooley, stopped by to join the party and let the team know how proud they were of them.
Tee Lawton from Mount Hope Housing came by to thank everyone on behalf of his recipient organization and the families who would be getting some of the toys.
John Lehman from Kidville stopped by to show his support and represent the outstanding Kidville Team. And as always, our dedicated friends 1-800-GOT-JUNK? were in attendance ready to load up their trucks and make toy deliveries to the hundreds of smiling little faces.
Viacommunity Day 2015 was a big success and we couldn’t have done it without everyone involved! Thank you all for your dedication to our mission, the Earth, and the kids.
Oftentimes, when a "rare collection" is being auctioned off, you expected to hear about Sotheby's or Christie's acting on behalf of the upper crust. But every now and then comes a heart-warming rarities auction of sorts.
Enter Joe Moscone, a publicist who had worked with Hasbro for a long time.
Joe is now auctioning off his large collection of toys to benefit Receptions for Research: The Greg Olsen Foundation. This organization helps provide hospitals, doctors and scholars with "the resources necessary to enhance the lives" of those suffering from forms of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Selling off items through eBay, Moscone is posted around 15 new items each week through the June. Among the rarities currently up for sale are pieces related to "Star Wars," "G.I. Joe," "My Little Pony," "JEM," "Deadpool" and Wolverine from "X-Men."
So the next time someone mocks your collection of toys, remember that toys can go a long way in making a difference for others.
Author: Darren Paltrowitz, Music & Media Licensing at Viacom
Last week, an interesting news story came out about Amazon, as highlighted by Caroline Bologna with The Huffington Post. Amazon, the undisputed king of online retail, made the decision to no longer sort toys by gender. Or, as Jack Danger pointed out on Twitter, “there are no more 'boys' and 'girls' sections.”
This development is an intriguing step forward when it comes to the gender role debate. It states that we are no longer to assume that G.I. Joe's (or whatever the character of the moment is) are for boys and Barbies are for girls. Organizations like ThinkProgress, Planned Parenthood, and Teaching Tolerance, clearly now have an impact on commerce.
But wherever your personal politics lie on gender roles, it is important to remember that toys are an important part of one's childhood. For me personally, the action figures I was fortunate to have of WWF wrestlers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters were integral to the development of my creativity. To my parents, maybe those figures were little more than hunks of plastic, but to me, they were my entertainment. And all these years later, I still remember the fun I had with them.
So even if a particular action figure or doll seems “too girlie” at first glance, remember that someone out there would love to have it.
Author: Darren Paltrowitz, Music & Media Licensing at Viacom
This Earth Week, Second Chance Toys teamed up with 1-800-GOT-JUNK? at 11 different locations from Washington DC to Boston! Together we collected over 1,500 gently used plastic toys that were delivered to deserving children in the same communities they were collected.
We weren’t the only ones impressed by Got Junk and their supportive communities, Mayor DeLuca of Maplewood, NJ stopped by to show his support too!
Thank you 1-800-GOT-JUNK? We look forward to keeping plastic toys out of the landfills and delivering smiles to children together again in the future!
This Earth Week, associates from Booz Allen Hamilton in Mclean, VA collected beautiful gently used plastic toys with Second Chance Toys. The Booz Allen associates held a cleaning and tagging event after the toys were gathered to make sure they were in perfect condition for their new owners.
With the help of our friends at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? Washington DC, all of the toys were delivered to two different local recipient organizations serving kids in need.
A BIG thank you to everyone who helped with this initiative! Your efforts put smiles on the faces of many deserving children, all while helping the environment at the same time.
Together with Kohl's Cares, the volunteer and community service arm of Kohl's Department Stores, we saved 3,000 toys from the landfills this weekend! This year, for our National Go Green Event with Kohl's Cares on April 25, we did something different. We coordinated 32 events across 5 states with more than 350 Kohl's employees volunteering their time and donating toys to organizations that directly benefit children. Those organizations included many Head Start locations, women's shelters, and low-income/free daycare programs. While on-site, the volunteers brought in and tagged their toy donations, cleaned toys that the organizations already had, organized toys by ages, removed broken toys from shelves, cleaned off toy storage areas, and they even built a new toy shelf at one location!
Overall, the day was a huge success. We want to thank the wonderful organizations we worked with, and especially the volunteers from Kohl's who donated toys and their time for this incredible event! We're sharing some of the photos from the day here. We've rounded up all of the photos and social media posts on our website. Take a look!
Students at Evergreen School in Scotch Plains, NJ helped clean and tag the more than 400 toys that were dropped off within one hour at their Earth Week collection. Toys were immediately delivered to organizations serving children in need in Passaic and Newark, compliments of 1-800-Got-Junk?.
Here at Second Chance Toys, Earth Day is one of our favorite days of the year. It's an excellent time to connect with children about the Earth, and talk to and show them the importance of the three Rs! Here are some of our favorite things to do with kids on Earth Day:
1. Plant a tree. Now that warmer weather is on its way, April is a great time to get outside and plant a tree that your yard, park, or community needs. Some of the benefits of trees include reducing pollution and improving air quality, fighting climate change by reducing surface temperatures in hot months, providing shelter and food for wildlife, plus trees are fun to watch grow over the years!
2. Take a walk instead of a car ride. Show kids that there are ways to get places without involving a motor that produces pollution. Double benefit--it's good for you, too!
3. Start composting. Many of the things we throw out every day could actually be composted. Things like apple cores, coffee grounds, and egg shells can be composted instead of taking up space in a landfill. At-home composting can be done easily, and larger cities including New York City even have compost drop-off areas.
4. Unplug. Take a break from the electicity-guzzling television, phones, and computers and enjoy a day outside with your kids! We come to depend on these devices, but it's important to take time and just enjoy your children. Play a game of soccer, roll down a hill, do a potato-sack race, do some hopscotch, or lay down in the grass and name the shapes of the clouds!
5. Donate unused toys. Recycling and reducing can be easier to explain to kids, but reusing is a little trickier. A great way to do that is to go through old toys and donate any toys that haven't been played with in over six months. And by donating those toys to children in need, your kids will also learn how it feels to do good for others. It's no coincidence that one of our two donation times is during Earth Month (April). Visit our drop-off location page to see if there's a place locally where you can drop-off toys. If there isn't, consider holding a toy collection next Earth Day!
If you can't get around to any of these tips today, maybe tomorrow works better. Or better yet, make EVERY DAY Earth Day!