New Jersey Teen Rescues Toys for a Second Chance

Filed under: In The News, Amazing Kids


Rescued and recycled toys at the Babyland/Family Violence Center in Newark, N.J. From left, Aminah Adib-Muhammad, Michelle McAllister, Ebony Macken and Sasha Lipton. Courtesy: Sasha Lipton.

Remember the three R's in school: reading, writing and 'rithmetic? One teen has added two other R's, "rescue and recycle," to her education.

Sasha Lipton, the 19-year-old who founded Second Chance Toys, says that plastic toys do not biodegrade. "One hundred years later and it will be still sitting there. Wash it off, it will be perfect," she says.

When she was 15, she and her mother saw plastic toys left along curbside for trash pickup. Sasha had the idea of cleaning off the toys and placing them in the hands of children who needed them.

Sasha and her mother got out of their car and started picking up toys, storing them in their New Jersey basement.

Having been involved in volunteering for Meals-on-Wheels and Camp Sunshine, Lipton was not new to helping people. However, after calling organizations dealing with homeless people and children, she found the most challenging aspect was to find places willing to take the toys.

"Trying to find people was difficult. No one wanted to take them from a random girl," Lipton tells ParentDish.

Finally, a shelter for women who were abused and their children accepted the toys. Once a small article appeared in the newspaper, more organizations showed interest. Second Chance Toys was born.

Lipton says that Second Chance Toys now has two main donation drives: Earth Week, which focuses on the environmental good the organization can do, and at Thanksgiving, which focuses on helping children.

To date, more than 41,000 toys have been donated and Second Chance Toys has affiliates popping up throughout the U.S., including those in Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Florida.

"On the Web site, there is a place where you can get started and anyone can start collecting toys. It doesn't have to be along with us," Lipton says in a telephone interview. "And if they need help, they can always contact us."

Although the organization has had donations from school children, parents seem to be the most interested in Second Chance Toys. And, she says, because of the downturn in the economy, it is an "easy way to help out without having to spend money."

"We've had a lot of success," Lipton tells ParentDish. "It resonates with adults who have children because it is all about recycling the old toys."

Lipton, who is a sophomore at Northwestern University, says the organization is looking to grow and expand into more states. Second Chance Toys is looking to gain its non-profit 501(c)3 status and partner with a larger company.

"We've grown and can only grow so far," Lipton says. "Partnership with funding would be beneficial and could grow to a lot more states."

Lipton encourages other kids to get involved in their community and says that "any idea can become a reality." She adds, "You shouldn't give up, ever. That was the biggest thing for me. I thought I would donate a few toys, but seeing it become real...everyone supported it."

Related: Colorado Teens Volunteer to Offer Friendship, One Person at a Time

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.