A new Ithaca-based non-profit that plans to establish a toy lending library for kids around Central New York is kicking off a fundraising drive on “Giving Day” this Tuesday. Their goal is to raise $10,000 by the end of the year.
The Finger Lakes Toy Library is a 501(c)(3) formed this year with the intent making membership in the toy library free of charge, “so that all may join without hesitation or limitation,” says president Debra Lewis. The fundraising effort that kicks off this week and ends just before midnight on December 31st will go “towards goals such as purchasing toys, creating brochures, hosting a fundraising event, purchasing insurance, and securing a location.”
Lewis adds that the Finger Lakes Toy Library team “hopes to secure an Ithaca location and a full-time employee and open its doors by June 2017.”
Toy libraries aren’t a new concept, says FLTL vice president Amber Smith. “Toy libraries work just like book libraries, except that instead of borrowing a book you borrow a toy,” she says. The United States has had toy libraries since 1935, and they’re supported by the USA Toy Library Association and the International Toy Library Association. There are hundreds in the US, with the nearest in Rochester and Penn Yan.
Joining a toy library “exposes children to the sharing economy and reuse culture at a young age, which helps instill in them the true meaning of what it is to share,” according to FLTL. It can also give kids access to toys their families might not be able to afford on their own, and a wide variety of toys “can stimulate different areas of brain development.”
The group will start with toys for children up to seven years of age, and if early efforts are successful, they’ll expand their collections to include older children as well as toys specifically for kids with special needs.
Smith says FLTL is looking for an accessible space in Ithaca to house the library “that can accommodate a large amount of shelving for displaying toys as well as a play-space area.” It will need to have at least one restroom, a kitchen for cleaning toys, and storage space. “If you know of a location that might work for a toy library, please contact us,” she adds.
On Giving Day, November 29th, GiveGab is waiving the 5% fees the fundraising provider usually collects, meaning 100% of donated funds on Tuesday will go to the Finger Lakes Toy Library cause.
“We need to show community support with a successful crowdfunding campaign when we apply for grants,” says Lewis, who is herself the mother of a two-year-old named Theia. “If all you have to spare is five dollars, please use it to cast your vote in favor of the creation of a toy library in Ithaca.”