Back in 2007, the town of Brockport, NY, had a number of gift giving and collecting groups that provided toys to local families in need at Christmas. However, all of them required donated toys to be new. As most moms know all too well, closets and cupboards are often overflowing with gently used toys – toys that their own kids have outgrown, but still have lots of play in them!
This is what prompted the MOMS Club of Brockport, NY, to launch their Annual Toy Giftaway. Now in its 7th year, the Giftaway provides gently used toys to over 100 local families (with close to 400 children!) every December. A Brockport chapter member noticed an idea in the popular Flylady website and shared it with the chapter. It was immediately apparent that the chapter had lots of enthusiasm for this type of project. This was something they could do with the whole family, was in line with the members’ “going green” philosophy, and was something not currently being done in their community. Five short weeks later, the first Giftaway was held, and the response from both the families who donated along with the families that received toys quickly turned this into an annual event.
How does the Giftaway work?
- Each year the chapter collects gently used toys from member’s families, families in the community and local community groups like scout troops and sports teams that collect toys their children are ready to pass along. Roughly 95% of the toys they collect and distribute are gently used items.
- They offer the toys up to any local family that needs them during the Giftaway, which is traditionally held the first week in December. The chapter doesn’t ask for identifying information or proof of financial need, things that many families are embarrassed to share, especially if their financial hardships are recently acquired.
- Members include their children throughout the project. The kids help collect toys, transport them to the storage facility, set the toys up at our “store”, make sure the gifts have fresh batteries and all the parts are included, and clean them up so that they are in “giftable” condition. Even the 2 and 3 year olds get into the act, armed with baby wipes and a mission to get the toys in nice condition for a new little boy or girl to enjoy come Christmas morning.
As the Giftaway has grown, the chapter has noticed that it’s having a remarkable impact on the community. They recently had one shopper who thanked them for the toys, and shared that this is the second year in a row that she was unable to buy Christmas presents for her children due to her financial circumstances. Her thanks were appreciated, but what really made the day exceptional was when she returned just a few hours later with a bag of her own children’s gently used toys that they had outgrown to donate back to another family. Watching this mom realize that even though she was in need, she still possessed the ability to help others was simply amazing, and really what this whole program is all about. We are all a part of our community, and we all have something we can contribute back – to make our community a better place.