New joy in old toys: The bank of happiness is making life better for poor children
Imagine the joy when, as children, we were gifted toys — there are many who never get to experience that feeling. For poor children, even a nice toy may be a luxury beyond their reach. That is something Vidyun Goel has changed. Her organisation, the Toy Bank, makes underprivileged children happy, one toy at a time. The bank, to put it in a nutshell, collects and refurbishes pre-owned toys, and then distributes them among less fortunate children.
The idea first came to life in 1987, thanks to Vijay Goel (now the Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports), and was later taken forward by his daughter, Vidyun, who quit a well-paid job to make this initiative her life’s mission. “The Toy Bank is a force of change,” says Vidyun. “There are so many in this country who are denied the basic joy of receiving a toy. While many see a toy as just as a mode of recreation, it also serves as a child’s first educational tool. Toys are vital for developing physical, cognitive, language, emotional and social skills,” she adds.
So what, precisely, does the Toy Bank do? Having started as something that was just a personal and very limited initiative, the bank soon grew to become a community initiative.
The bank functions with the motto ‘recycle toys, recycle smiles’. It collects old toys, recycles and refurbishes them, and then distributes them among those in need. Three simple steps complete the journey of an old toy reaching a new kid — the toys are brought to a central collection centre, where they’re sorted according to the type of toy, and then checked for reusability before being sent to the children. While Delhi NCR has several collection centres, Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh now has one as well.
Vidyun says, “We have collection centres according to zones; anyone can donate and all it takes is a call. You give the nearest centre a call (all centres are listed on the website), drop your toys there at a fixed time, and you’re done. The centres are based out of houses of volunteers, most of whom have been volunteering for years for this cause.
“These toys go through a proper process — so that no child receives a toy that is bad or broken — and are then packed as per the demographic, age, gender and intellectual capacity of the kids. The initiative not only collects and distributes toys, but also sensitises young kids to the joy of sharing.”
The Toy Bank expands every year and will keep doing so, says Vidyun. “People who are part of the cause, and the ones joining it are those who care deeply about this. I could tell you a million stories that would warm your heart. These people work really hard with the aim of reaching every child and making their childhood a little more special. We’ve been growing every year, reaching lakhs of kids and will keep growing. We also have centres coming up across more cities.”
Wish to volunteer for the Toy Bank? Join them here.
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