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Iowa City project continues ‘toy redistribution,’ seeks donations
World might feel ‘a little more normal,’ but families are still struggling’
IOWA CITY — Stemming from one local child’s COVID-era fear that Christmas would be canceled, Iowa City-area nonprofits in fall 2020 launched a “toy redistribution” initiative that they’re reviving this year even as pandemic-related fears have waned.
“We recognize that while the world might feel a little more ‘normal,’ families are still struggling,” organizers of the “IC Toy Redistribution” project said about the move to repeat the effort this holiday season. “We are bringing back the IC Toy Redistribution Project as a means to provide redistributed free toys to whoever can use them.”
The project — a collaboration of Corridor Community Action Network, The LENA Project, Iowa City-based social justice advocate Anne Ventullo and others, with financial backing from Velvet Lotus Tattoo — will look a bit different this year.
In 2020 — due to the state of the pandemic during the initiative’s first go — participating families browsed from toys pictured online, and organizers made individual pickup arrangements. The project this year will announce redistribution locations.
Sites, times, and dates haven’t been unveiled yet — as organizers remain in toy-collection mode, hoping to serve as many as possible.
“All toys are free. There are no requirements for participating and no questions asked,” according to the website, which concedes, “Depending on availability, we may need to limit the number of toys (per) family.”
To that end, organizers are urging donation of “quality, used toys” — committing to do at least some of the work to prepare them to be gifted.
“Assess if the toy is something you would’ve been excited to unwrap yourself as a child,” according to the redistribution site. “If the toy is in bad shape, skip it. If it is a high quality toy, we are excited to redistribute it!
“Some toys may need a bit of TLC. If a toy is nearly in good condition, but needs a bit of a wash down, please do this at home before donating.”
The team has set up an online donation process, asking community members to use a form describing what they plan to give and when.
Although the idea emerged from concerns around families struggling financially, the project also aims to curb consumerism and help the environment.
“They aim to re-imagine holiday shopping, providing affordable (free!) toy gifts while reducing consumerism and waste,” according to a news release.
And the drive is taking financial gifts as well, to keep the project going in subsequent years.
“Additionally, the group would like to balance out toy redistribution by including holiday meal support and gifts for teens and adults when needed,” according to project officials. “So gift cards to grocery stores, Walmart, Target, shoe stores, app points, malls, movie theaters, art supply stores, etc. are greatly appreciated as well.”
Financial gifts can be made via credit card at https://www.thelenaproject.org/donate; by check to The Lena Project, 1019 Washington St. Mailbox B; Iowa City, IA 52245; using Venmo (VelvetLotus_Tattoo); PayPal (firstname.lastname@example.org); or CashApp $CorridorCAN with a note that says “Toy Redistribution.”
Gift cards can be mailed to: Corridor Community Action Network; C/O Iowa City Fab Lab; 870 S. Capitol St; Iowa City, IA 52240
For more information, visit https://ictoyredistribution.squarespace.com/ or email email@example.com
Source: IC Toy Redistribution
Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.
Comments: (319) 339-3158; firstname.lastname@example.org