students celebrated Earth Week surrounded by green grass, sunshine and hundreds of plastic toys waiting to be cleaned, sorted, tagged and transported to children in need. The toys were donated by parents and community members and delivered to New Community Corp. Harmony House in Newark on Tuesday, April 17. Students at Tamaques Elementary School in Westfield also collected 250 toys for Harmony House.
The Earth Week toy drive was organized by Evergreen Spanish teacher, Bronna Lipton who is on the Board of Second Chance Toys, a nonprofit organization that was started by her daughter Sasha in 2006. The organization has since rescued over 100,000 plastic toys and delivered the donations to organizations that help children and families in need.
“These are all toys that would have ended up in a landfill,” Bronna Lipton said. “By 11 a.m. the children at Harmony House will be playing with these toys. This is the fourth year we have conducted an Earth Week toy drive at Evergreen. It is so wonderful to see the kids light up at the sight of a new toy.”
Lipton recalled driving around her hometown of Mountainside with her daughter who was appalled at the amount of perfectly good toys that had been discarded by the side of the road.
Sasha began Second Chance Toys by collecting the discarded toys, cleaning them and donating them in hopes of saving the environment while giving children in need the opportunity to play with clean, gently used toys. Now in her senior year at Northwestern University, Lipton has won numerous awards for her work with Second Chance including the President’s Volunteer Service award.
As seven fourth graders, parents, and volunteers sat on the lawn sorting through toys, Dan Scharch of 1800-Got-Junk? was on hand to help transport the toys to Harmony House. 1800-Got Junk? has worked hand in hand with Second Chance Toys since the organizations inception.
“1800-Got-Junk? reached out to us several years ago,” Bronna said. “Our missions are very similar – we both value the importance of recycling reusing as much as can be salvaged. They have been such a help during our holiday and Earth week collections.”
With the help of 1800-Got Junk? Second Chance Toys now conducts toy drives across the nation. Armed with a new website, the goal of the charity has now expanded to empowering organizations nationwide to conduct their own toy drives, keeping more and more toys out of the landfills and in the loving arms of children around the country.
“This has been a great opportunity for the kids to give back to their peers and learn the meaning of giving and recycling,” Second Chance Chief of Operations, Jen Cournoyer said.
Evergreen third grader, Ian was in charge of the battery station. As he diligently replaced the batteries in countless plastic toys, he paused to tell Patch what he thought of the toy drive.
“This is really fun!” Ian said. “It’s important to recycle so that there won’t be so much garbage. I also really like helping the other kids.”