Second annual Community Toy Swap to be held Saturday

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TORRINGTON – A few years ago, one local woman, like many families in the community, began cleaning out her used and loved children’s toys in preparation for a new round of children’s gifts for the year.
The thought occurred to her most of the toys still had a lot of life left in them and they all had a bit more love to pass around. 

Karen Daily, of Torrington, developed the Community Toy Swap and this year will be the second-year toys have been collected to regift throughout the community.

“I was talking with a girlfriend three years ago,” Daily explained. “We were just talking about cleaning our kids toys and making room for all of the gifts they get at Christmastime.” 

With only a few local stores that accept donations like used children’s toys, Daily wanted an opportunity to give back to the community, without a charge. 

“There are places to donate but we were talking that day, and I said that it would be pretty awesome if we could just have our own room where we took all of our toys that we need to clean out for the year and allow our community to just come through and take whatever they wanted, for free,” Daily said. “I just felt like there was a need for that.” 

Goshen County residents have felt the impact of the financial uncertainty, and many families are struggling in the community.

“We have all different aspects of income levels in Goshen County, and I just felt like if I am getting rid of something, rather than donating it to something people are going to have to pay for, I would rather give to the community,” Daily told the Telegram. “There’s a lot of families that can’t afford gifts for their kids or maybe they don’t want to spend a ton of money on gifts,” Daily said. 

The toy swap, held in the basement of Pinnacle Bank, accepts used toys for any age of child for a week before the actual event. Once all of toys have been dropped off, the process of organizing begins. 

“It’s practical and it’s just simple,” Daily explained. “That’s what I like about it. I’m cleaning out my stuff, let’s find a place to take it and lets just allow the community to come in and take what they need, for free, because I feel that is service to other people,” she continued. 

There is no donation necessary and there is no payment collected, according to Daily. 

“I’m going to bring my toys. If you want to bring yours you can and if you don’t have any toys to donate, that is fine too. Just come in and take what you want,” Daily explained.

The toys must be delivered to the Pinnacle Bank, according to Daily, because it becomes too time consuming having to pick up the toys from homes and businesses. 

Last year, Daily organized the toys by age and gender the day before the event and this year is no different.

“I put all the books on one table and stuffed animals on another, kind of did like a boys table and a girls table,” Daily explained.

Last year, the event kicked off at 10 a.m. and a line had already formed by 9:15 a.m. By noon, all of the donated toys had found new homes.

The event really has limited expenses for Daily which makes it easier for her to continue helping in the community. 

“It doesn’t cost me anything,” Daily explained. “It’s only my time. It doesn’t cost me anything. Pinnacle lets us use the space.  I just thought, I am going to continue this event every year because it’s been such a blessing to those people last year.”

Last year, when people came to the basement, they would grab a box and shop for toys. Community members were surprised by the quality of toys given during the drive and they were also surprised to hear the price. 

“They were shocked,” Daily said. “People would walk in and say, ‘Is this really free? Can we take as much as we want?’ We don’t have things like that in our society these days. It feels like there is always a catch, but there is no catch.”

The toy drive began collecting toys on Monday and according to Daily, there is already a good number of toys for donation in the basement. 

Organization will begin on Thursday even though Daily will accept donation until Friday.

Community members are invited to come shop for children’s toys in the basement of Pinnacle Bank on Saturday, December 2 at 10 a.m.

There are some items Daily is unable to accept for donation. 

“I put on our flyer the things we cannot accept,” Daily explained. “Make sure toys are clean and if they are in small parts, put them in a Ziplock bag. No car seats. No baby swings and other safety equipment.” 

“You kind of get into the electronics aspect, I think more, at an older age,” Daily explained. “So, I do feel like our donations kind of ended at the toy stage, because we aren’t taking used electronics or something that a teenager would be more prone to want.”

There is no age limit on the toys accepted for the toy swap, or the families shopping.

“I feel like our roll and responsibility is to serve other people and hope is through this service of people donating their toys and having a place for others to come and pick toys up that it can just be a blessing to them,” Daily explained.