Welcome our series of articles and shared stories that follow what happens to your toys after you drop them off. In each story, we'll share how a toy donation has directly and positively impacted the life of a child. We share these just as our holiday toy donations begin, with the hope that these stories provide some inspiration for giving and also a greater appreciation for the importance of toys.
All Toy Tales are from Second Chance Toys.
Toy Tale #1:
It was not until a delivery of Second Chance Toys to the Brownsville section of Brooklyn this past holiday, that the children at Ascend Charter School had toys for recess. As if the new squeals of joy at recess were not enough, the team of social workers were able to put some of the toys from Second Chance Toys to use to help the students work through behavioral issues. "Toys are wonderful tools that allow us to help our children without them realizing it," commented Amanda Michel, M.S.Ed. "While it appears to the children that we are simply playing”, she continued, “we are actually building conflict resolution, problem solving, and pro-social skills."
Among the many toys donated, the school social workers and counselors are now utilizing a dollhouse in counseling sessions in order to role play problems that arise in the classroom. They use a Monopoly Junior game and other toys to help develop good sportsmanship skills, including taking turns and using kind words with peers. The Legos and action figures are great to use with the students who struggle with following directions, and a Light Brite toy is perfect for helping the children improve their fine motor skills. To top it all off, the donated foosball table will be used to encourage parent-child interaction in a school setting for family game nights!
"Bottom line,” added Allison McKenna, LMSW, “The toys play a key role in providing our students with a developmentally appropriate way to learn about themselves and the world around them. These toys are invaluable!"
Toy Tale #2:
As Jinnea turned the key and pushed the door open, she could still smell the new paint on the wall. It made her smile and remember just how far she had come. Her new apartment was in the same neighborhood she grew up in, yet it was worlds apart from the poverty she had once lived in. It was also a five minute walk from the Head Start Homeless Shelter she and her two sons once called home.
Like her two boys, Zyon and Amari, Jinnea had grown up in a broken home herself. But she was lucky enough to have two very loving grandparents who helped her get off the welfare system and find a job. She started in a low paying entry level position and was quickly promoted to administrative assistant working with adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. Jinnea is now working towards a degree in human services with a concentration in counseling – and she plans to graduate in May. She is so proud to have pulled herself up by her bootstraps to raise her boys in a better environment.
Gateway Community Head Start nurtured Jinnea’s kids while she was getting her feet on the ground. Zyon and Amari, went through the education and enrichment programs for preschoolers – and Jinnea is certain it gave the boys the positive start they needed -especially for her youngest, who is developmentally delayed. Jinnea can remember one particular breakthrough day for Armari. It was the day Second Chance Toys delivered gently used plastic toys to the children at Head Start; Amari received a plastic train from SCT. And through various play exercises with his new train, Amari’s teacher was able to pull him out of his shell and help him advance his speech and socialization. Jinnea and his educators still marvel at the fact that a plastic train held the key to unlock her son’s development. Helping kids and the environment… one toy at a time.
Toy Tale #3:
Anthony and his family had a holiday season they will never forget. It had been a year of great lows. First the family was forced to relocate to a more affordable apartment. Then after a serious health threat landed Anthony’s father in the hospital, things became desperate. The family – which includes Anthony, his parents and his eight siblings -- were forced to move into a transitional living center located in Newark, NJ. The New Community Harmony House, a shelter that provides families like Anthony’s with the support they need, became their new home.
The New Harmony House offered new hope for the family – and also great support in the areas of job and education assistance, and food and clothing. But for Anthony, one of the most cherished gifts this transitional housing facility gave him was hope for the future – through the eyes of a plastic dinosaur.
It happened one afternoon when Second Chance Toys paid Anthony and the other kids at Harmony a visit several days before Christmas. Anthony and his brothers and sisters expected nothing for the holidays. They knew their parents’ situation. But that afternoon, they were pleasantly surprised to receive good-as-new plastic toys, with small tags bearing a note from the previous owner wishing them well. Anthony was given a dinosaur, a yellow helicopter, and two big trucks, but it’s the toy dinosaur that impacted him most. It made him curious about the study of dinosaurs, which blossomed into a general interest in the sciences, which made Anthony decide that he himself wanted to be a scientist when he grew up. And once he became famous for his discoveries, he was going to buy his family a new house they could all live in together. His mother believes the toy not only had a special meaning for her son but it helped him in his social and educational development. For Anthony that dinosaur has given him inspiration and hope.
Recycled love and a second chance. It’s magic.