CHRISTMAS is the time of year when children especially look forward to getting gifts, often in the form of toys.
However, they often lose interest in their “gifts” after a while.
This sometimes results in mountains of toys that collect dust at home, many of which remain in good condition.
Poorly discarded toys may end up polluting the environment, especially if the parts are not recycled or end up in landfills or the ocean.
Instead of having the playthings go to waste, two non-profit organisations are collecting them as gifts for underprivileged children.
Their objective is to bring joy to these children while prolonging the toys’ lifespan.
One of these organisations is Toy Libraries Malaysia, which has set up the SS3 Creative Hub in Petaling Jaya.
It provides a drop-off space for pre-loved toys and children’s books as well as a community toy library.
The collected items are also channelled to other toy libraries set up in both urban and rural areas to benefit children from underprivileged communities.
Some of the items are sold at a cheaper price to generate income for the library to sustain its operations.
Similarly, ShareAngel – an initiative of Persatuan Pertukaran Barang-barang di Malaysia – also collects pre-loved items, especially toys, for the same purpose while also selling some to sustain its centre.
Both organisations always welcome donated items such as soft toys, mechanical toys, puzzles, board games, wooden toys and dolls that are clean and in good condition.
SS3 Creative Hub
Toy Libraries Malaysia chief play advocate Datin PH Wong said close to half of the childcare centres in the country have been permanently or temporarily closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This has taken away quality playtime from the children.A 2017 Unicef Malaysia report, which surveyed 17 people’s housing projects (PPR), found that four out of 10 children from these flats did not own a toy.
“Play is the biggest form of ‘research’ a child can engage in.
“Because of the school closures, many children have missed out on play, which is a crucial part of their growth and development,” said Wong.
She explained that “open-ended” toys such as building blocks and board games worked well to stimulate the minds of children.
“These toys enable children to spend long hours playing and also allows them to develop speech, language and analytical skills,” she added.
The first toy library, spearheaded by Wong, was created in Perak’s Belum Rainforest for Orang Asli children in 2005.
Since then, some 50 such libraries have been created by Toy Libraries in collaboration with others.
“While battery-operated toys may engage a child for a short while, toys that facilitate role-play or enable children to play with others are better,” said Wong.
“Items such as colour pencils are also great tools for children to express their imagination and creativity.
“We hope to give more toys to underprivileged children as they usually don’t have any at home.”
She added that 95% of the toys were made of plastic and non-recyclable.
The best way to handle unwanted toys is to rehome the toys either as gifts or have them placed in a toy library.
“Children, regardless of their background, deserve to play with proper toys,” Wong stressed.
“We have seen children with no toys in places such as PPR Lembah Subang in Petaling Jaya.
“Our big dream is to create a toy library and provide a safe space for children, including the undocumented, at all underprivileged areas,” she said.
She invites the public to donate pre-loved toys that are in good condition for distribution to children in need, not just during the Christmas season but throughout the year.
Among the beneficiaries will be the urban poor, those in rural areas, children in Sabah and Sarawak, undocumented children and refugees.
Wong also welcomes volunteers, especially youths, to help clean the donated toys.
SS3 Creative Hub accepts toy drop-offs at No.2, Jalan SS3/52, Sungai Way in Petaling Jaya, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10am to 5pm.
For more information, send WhatsApp message to 016-333 4228.
ShareAngel, located in Bandar Tasik Selatan, Kuala Lumpur, is the brainchild of several engineers.
The founders of ShareAngel are Dr Angie Lee, Lim Sin Poh, Kho Lip Khiong and Dr Case Ngo.
Lee, upon returning from a Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) programme in the United States in 2016, was thinking of ways to kick-start a social initiative.
When her peers created a food aid programme for undergraduates, this inspired her to embark on providing the needy with extra or unsold food from restaurants.
She went on to create a social enterprise that repurposes pre-loved items.
ShareAngel is a project that enables poor children in various parts of Malaysia to receive pre-loved toys.
During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in March last year, Lee observed that many single mothers had lost their jobs and needed help.
“While we were assisting these single mothers with food provisions, we noticed that their children needed toys and books.
“We started gathering pre-loved items and gave them to these mothers.
“Mothers in Sabah contacted us through social media and asked if they could have toys for their children.
“They live in water villages that make delivery challenging, but I know they are receiving the toys because they send me photos of their children playing with the donated toys.”
She said the happiness on the children’s faces was what kept her team motivated.
“We noticed that some of the poor families had no toys at all and we are glad to send them the pre-loved toys,” she added.
Lim, a father of three, said he was sold on the idea of social enterprise that would also help to preserve the environment.
Just as urban folk in Malaysia now engaged in circulating used goods, he said the concept of redistributing toys was also catching on.
“In the US, pre-loved items are not seen as ‘dirty’ or solely for the poor,” he noted.
“Likewise, all items gathered by ShareAngel are cleaned properly before being sold or donated.”
Lim said the Covid-19 pandemic had been unkind to many businesses and non-profit organisations like ShareAngel, which was formed in March last year.
He hopes that more will come forward to help fund these charitable initiatives.
“We are renting a shoplot to store these donated items.
“While we donate some to the poor, we also sell some of the pre-loved toys to raise funds to sustain our operations.
“It is challenging and we hope the public and corporate bodies can aid us with the rental of this space,” he said.
ShareAngel’s founders hope to receive donations of pre-loved toys, books and home appliances.
For more information, call 012-975 0028 or visit www.shareangel.org