Let's say you have a slew of neglected Polly Pocket dolls lying around the house, and you never got around to returning that duplicate toy golf set from your kid's last birthday party. Guilty? Instead of allowing these items to become part of your home's endless obstacle course of things to trip over, consider donating to Second Chance Toys, a nonprofit toy donation program that takes plastic toys out of our landfills and puts them in the hands of kids in need.
Founded in the summer of 2006, Second Chance has donated over 170,000 toys to underserved children to date. Twice annually (once at the end of April for Earth Week, and once at the end of December for the holidays), the organization conducts a nationwide toy drive. Your role in the effort will differ depending on where you live and what you can donate, but be assured that any help makes a worthwhile impact. Here's how to get involved:
If you have just an armful of toys to donate, head to Second Chance's website and click "donate," which will lead you to a list of toy drop-off locations in several metropolitan areas (Boston, Philadelphia, New York City, and New Jersey). From there, all you have to do is drop off your donation. At the end of the collection period, Second Chance will send someone to pick up the toys and deliver them in bulk to various recipient organizations, all of which are 501(c)3 nonprofits serving kids in need.
(Side note for those in the Garden State: mark your calendars for April 13, when, in honor of the upcoming Earth Week, Second Chance's partner 1-800-Got-Junk will park collection trucks at firehouses throughout New Jersey where families can drop off their toys.)
Don't live in or near one of the designated metro areas? Don't worry – you can still participate. Start a community service project through your child's school, scout troop, or sports team, and create a mini toy drive. Gathering at least 50 toys makes you eligible to pilot your own donation. Just click "collect" on the website, and you'll be matched with a charitable organization in your community so that you can deliver the donation yourself, enabling you and your kids to see exactly where the old toys are being put to play.
All toy donations must be plastic, clean, and gently used. Toys should have no small or missing parts and come with working batteries if they're battery-operated.
If you're out of geographic range and can't hit the half-a-hundred goal but still want to contribute to the cause, keep in mind that Second Chance Toys is a nonprofit organization that can always benefit from monetary donations. The money may be used to offset the cost of everything from the wipes used to clean toys to the batteries used to power them.
Toy requests far exceed the 32,000+ that Second Chance was able to answer last year. Small town underprivileged kids may go unnoticed without collectors all over the nation, so recycle the word.
Just one donation of any kind yields multiple benefits. Your kids learn a valuable lesson in helping those less fortunate, toy recipients are given the opportunity to play and develop the way they deserve, and the environment is saved from unnecessary plastic waste. And for you, a clean house. (Well, it's a start.)
Photos: Second Chance Toys