How will the toy library help the black community?

We are deeply saddened by the events that took place in our community recently.  George Floyd lost his life at the hands of police officers.  It was wrong. Our community must come together to find ways to address the inequality people of color are experiencing. We have thought about how we can help promote justice within the toy library community.  We though about one of our goals as an organization – “building community.”  After brainstorming we have come up with the following goals to help address the inequality experienced by black people and people of color:

1) The toy library will purchase more culturally diverse toys/materials for young children.  Children should see representations of their skin color, cultural traditions, and family make-up when browsing our toy shelves.  This affirms a child’s worth in the world and gives families opportunities to discuss these topics through play at home.

2) The staff will look at the structures and policies in place to ensure that wording and actions are fair for all who work with the library and hold membership with the library.

3) Our outreach committee will hold a brainstorming session within the next couple months, to discuss “how are we reaching and engaging with our communities of color?” Can we do more to engage with them so they know about the toy library as a resource for their family.  At the end of the meeting they will come away with 2 action items for continued work on this topic.

We hope you stand with us, as we do what we can to help fight injustice we see in our communities.  If you have any resources you’d like to share with us about culturally diverse toys, resources for talking with YOUNG children about racial inequality, or black community organizations we as the toy library should be aware of please send us an email at mplstoylibrary@gmail.com.  If you’re a member and would like to be part of the outreach committee, please email outreach.mtl.committee@gmail.com.

Thank you,

Rebecca Nutter
Executive Director
Minneapolis Toy Library

Looking for volunteers

We love our volunteers.  They are why we exist.  They give their time to help us provide the toy library service to hundreds of members.  We have been so grateful for the support from our volunteers.  Thank YOU!  Thank you for choosing to spend time with us and support our mission.  We truly are blessed.

Our curbside service has been running smoothly for the past month – hooray!  We have worked out the kinks and are operating fairly smoothly.  (thank you to those volunteers that have given us the ideas to make things work better – it takes a village). Our social distancing protocol is being adhered to and all volunteers are wearing masks, so we feel we are operating to the best of ability to curb the spread of COVID19.

We have some upcoming shifts that we need help filling. Here is the scoop of what shifts would look like:

Monday shift from 6-8pm – put toys back on shelves, clean visibly dirty toys, check toys in using the computer, and possibly take pictures of toys (to adhere to bag so folks know what’s inside).

Wednesday shift from 6-8pm – fill toy orders by gathering toys appropriate for certain ages and interests (provided) and place around the library for easy pick up on the Saturday event.

Saturday shift from 9 – 12pm – CURBSIDE TOY PICK UP EVENT.  Bring pre-bagged toys out to curb for members to pick up, bring returned toys back into the library, check in those toys on the computer, and place toys back on shelf.

If you are interesting in helping please visit our SignUp Genius page.  If you know others looking for volunteer opportunities, please pass this along!  We miss the teenagers and families that would come and helps us out, even though they weren’t members.

Thank you,

Rebecca and Kari

Curbside Toy Pick up

Hello!

First off, we hope this message finds you and your family safe and healthy.  We have been thinking about our toy library community a lot in the past couple months.  Just like you, our families have been learning how to handle a new norm; distance learning, financial stress, questioning how to go forward, and what the future will look like.  It’s a lot to think about.  We hope that you find moments to breath…truly deep breaths and look for the good around you.  We are thinking of you.   

Our toy library doors have been closed since March.  The toys are aching to be played with by kids.  We are working out a plan to make this possible!  We will be introducing curbside pick up starting June 13th.  Curbside toy pick up dates will be every second and fourth Saturday from 9 – 12 pm.  We will discontinue Monday and Wednesday events until further notice. 

There are many details we are ironing out, but until we update you again, here are some things you can do in the meantime:

  1. Locate all the pieces to your toys. Find the bags.  If you can’t find the bag, a replacement bag would be appreciated.
  2. If there are any toy issues such as missing pieces, lost pieces, damaged pieces, please write that down on a piece of paper and add to the toy bag.  We are not going to handle these issues at curbside toy pick up, but still want to know about them. We will email you if we have any questions.  Please email us if you need to replace a toy due to damage/loss.  We are counting on YOU to help us keep good care of our toys.
  3. CLEAN and SANITIZE your toys.  See our tab “Toy Cleaning Protocol.”
  4. Tape up any boxes or bags that have tears with clear tape.
  5. Take pictures of your toys.  We are working on taking pictures of all our toys – for later development of our software.  Look for an email from us (check your junk folder and if we are in there, add mplstoylibrary@gmail.com to your contacts to avoid this in the future).
  6. Put the toy library phone number in your phone – 651-324-3589.
  7. Update your calendar to reflect the new curbside toy pick up events.

We are excited to get you some new toys next month.  Stay tuned for more information about curbside events.

 

A rainbow spotted on our drive home from southern Minnesota.  A beautiful sight.  IMG_6338

 

 

 

Closed until further notice

The toy library will close it’s doors due to concerns about Covid-19, until further notice.  This effective Friday, March 13th.  Thank you for your understanding on getting this message out to our community and our members.  It’s been a stressful week for all.  Hope you are well.

Buy eGift Cards online!

We are trying something new!  Will you be the first one to give it a try?  We are giving you the option to buy gift cards digitally.  Using our Square payment service you can now buy egift cards. Just follow the link below to purchase.  An email will be sent to the recipient with a code they use to redeem their gift card at our toy library.  You can give a gift of any amount, but remember that we operate on a sliding scale, where $40 – 100 will buy a year long membership. Pay what is comfortable for you.  Anything given above $40 helps us to buy new quality toys or offer scholarships for families who need the assistance.

eGift Card Link Here!

Non-toy Gift Ideas

Recently we asked our followers on Facebook to chime on what non-toy gifts they like to give children.  We received many great ideas that we would like to share with you. We think these are great ways to give children something unique and something that doesn’t add to a parents growing pile of toys.  In all honestly, those toys my kids have gotten as gifts, generally don’t get played with a ton.  What they would really treasure is TIME with loved ones or EXPERIENCES that will create memories. Keep this page handy for when those gift opportunities arise.  We will continue to add ideas as we think of them.

  • Children’s Museum, Science Museum, Zoo memberships
  • State Park passes
  • Sea Life membership
  • Heartfelt art studio in Minneapolis
  • Stages or Children’s Theater tickets
  • InnerActive or Good Times Park indoor park memberships
  • Nickelodeon Universe
  • Membership to Wood Lake Nature Center
  • Art Classes at the Minneapolis Institute of Art
  • Crayola Experience
  • Skill Lessons at Buck Hill
  • Dairy Queen gift card
  • Edinborough Indoor Play Area
  • Richfield Pool pass
  • Minnesota Bouldering Center punchcards
  • Mini golf gift certificate
  • Movie passes
  • Historical society membership
  • Kelley farm
  • Fort Snelling

Board Member Search

Are you passionate about community organizations and projects? Interested to see how an organization can go from a grassroots organization to the next level of being incorporated into the community as a vital resource for families and kids? Join us and help us make the Toy Library what it could be. We’re dreaming big: multiple locations, automated check-out/in process, online reservations, community events and education and operating as a non-profit organization.

Wondering if you’re the right fit for the board- consider the following:

  • You’re an experienced board member and know the ins and outs of board processes.
  • You are connected to educational resources.
  • You’re good with numbers.
  • You are great with strategic planning.
  • You have creative ideas and a can-do attitude.
  • You love the toy library and you want to see it thrive.
  • You’ve written a grant and know about the best practices.
  • You’ve started an organization before and know non-profit processes/policies.
  • You want to get involved in your community and see a board position as a great fit.

Email molly.bd.stern@gmail.com for more information. We’re delighted that you’re considering this volunteer position!

Toy recycling with TerraCycle

Through a grant we received from Hennepin County (Minneapolis, MN), our group purchased a toy recycling box through the company, TerraCycle.  TerraCycle would take broken and traditionally non-recyclable toys, manually pull out like items (textiles, wood, metal, and plastic), and properly break them down.  This meant no toy sent to them would end up in the landfill.

We had plenty of toys that ended up broken because of general use through our toy library and we knew members had the same problem in their own homes.

We were excited to get started.

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Broken toys, missing puzzle pieces, and unusable toys

The box was set up at our toy library and we notified our members of it’s existence.  Our box was filled up fairly quickly.  Members were happy to have the resource!

The box was brought in and weighed.  We diverted 32 lbs of toys from the landfill!  WOW!

We are currently looking into possibly fundraising for another box.  The cost for the shipping and recycling is fairly reasonable, but also something that cuts into our very small budget, so we are hoping there is continued support for getting another box in the near future.

Find out more about their recycling efforts at TerraCycle.  This article gives a good description of how these toy materials are recycled.

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