Play is integral to the development and education of children. You've seen that moment when a child at play discovers a new concept--the "aha" when a shape slides into a shape sorter, the thrill of catching a ball for the first time, the complete concentration as a puzzle starts to come together. The mission of the Finger Lakes Toy Library is to make sure that all children have access to the toys that make those moments of discovery possible. We believe that toys, the building blocks for development, creativity and connection should be available to all.
We’ve recently applied for $100,000 from the Gannett Foundation for expanded space. We’re thrilled to have passed the first hurdle in their grant review process; now we need to raise $5,000 through CrowdRise by April 12 for further consideration. Your gift could be the one that puts us over the $3,000 CrowdRise goal and makes the Finger Lakes region a true leader in the national toy library movement.
Toy libraries are popular internationally but are just getting off the ground in the United States. The Finger Lakes Toy Library is a toy lending library serving the Finger Lakes region of New York State. Our unofficial motto is “Borrow. Play. Return. Repeat.” Members borrow toys and then return them to borrow new toys, enabling caregivers to keep up with the developmental leaps of children as they quickly grow out of toys and are ready for new ones. But people don’t just come to check out toys; rather they stay and play, building relationships and deepening connections.
We have reached 229 members with over 400 children and it is not unusual to add 5-10 additional members each week. Membership is on a pay-what-you-can-honestly-afford basis with no minimum; approximately 20% of our families fall under the poverty line. Approximately 20 months after our opening, we're already serving 25% of households in Ithaca with children under the age of 18 and we just celebrated adding our 1,000th toy to the collection, over 900 of which were donated by the local community! How exciting is it to see toys that might otherwise have ended their life in the landfill instead giving joy to children each week?!
Can you believe that all this activity happens in a space that is just 454 square feet? You can be the game-changer who lets us truly meet the needs of our members. If we receive a grant from Gannett Foundation then the funds raised during this campaign will support our expansion into a larger space. Otherwise any funds raised will go towards current operating expenses, such as rent and salary.
Find out more about the Finger Lakes Toy Library at: www.fingerlakestoylibrary.org