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ITHACA, N.Y. — The Finger Lakes Toy Library (FLTL), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit formed in 2016 to operate a toy lending library in Ithaca, has found a location, and after being awarded three local grants this spring, will be opening its doors with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, June 22 at their location in Clinton West Plaza at 609 West Clinton Street, Suite 106 . All are welcome to stop by between 4:30pm and 6:00pm with the ribbon cutting ceremony happening at 4:45pm.
The mission of FLTL is to improve quality of life by increasing access to toys, supporting play, and encouraging a culture of reuse and sharing. Our community toy lending library on Clinton Street will function for toys and play much in the same way that the public library functions for books and reading. Internationally, toy libraries work just like book libraries, except that instead of borrowing a book, members borrow a toy. Toy libraries have been around in the USA since 1935 and provide a large number of benefits to members, which for FLTL will include both individual families as well as organizations and businesses.
After announcing the nonprofit’s existence to the community with a successful crowdfunding campaign this past holiday season, which engaged over 100 donors, the board of FLTL spent the winter writing grants and searching for a location. So far, the toy library has been awarded three local grants: a $750 Sustainable Tompkins Mini-Neighborhood Grant, a $425 Friends of the Tompkins County Public Library Community Organization Grant, and a $5,000 Community Foundation Grant from the Howland Foundation.
“We are very grateful for the support we have received from the community so far,” says President Debra Lewis. “We look forward to hosting community members in our location at Suite 106 in Clinton West Plaza for our ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 22nd as we open our doors and begin lending toys to the community.”
The toy library collection currently consists of almost 400 items, most of which have been donated by community members whose children have outgrown them. Toys were also purchased using grant funds, such as eco-education toys thanks to Sustainable Tompkins and literacy-related toys thanks to the Friends of TCPL. Additionally, toys have been donated by toy companies themselves. There have been board games, toys, and puzzles donated by companies such as Peaceable Kingdom, Gamewright, Family Pastimes, Sunsout Puzzles, and Snap Circuits. HABA USA in Skaneateles has donated a selection of toys that will be unveiled at our ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“At HABA USA we believe in the power of play and the incredibly positive impact it has on child development,” says Ashley Ware, Sales and Marketing Coordinator at HABA USA. “We are happy to donate our toys and excited to be part of the Finger Lakes Toy Library!”
Toys available for borrowing will initially be suitable mostly for children under the age of 7, but the toy library will also have an all-ages board game and puzzle collection available from the start. The toy library hopes to expand their collection in the future as more funding becomes available to include a wide range of toys for older children as well. FLTL plans to curate a collection of toys for lending that emphasizes high-quality, educational, environmentally-friendly, gender-neutral, and/or non-media-based toys, as well as toys that encourage open-ended, creative, imaginative, and cooperative play, and toys that build fine motor, gross motor, spatial reasoning, and other skills.
In addition to the lending of toys, FLTL hosts playtimes throughout the greater Ithaca-area, some of which are STEM-themed. Other themes for playtimes are in the planning stages. Toys from the collection are brought to playtimes, and children have the opportunity to play with them and each other in various off-site locations.
“Play is increasingly being shown to be invaluable to the development and education of children, especially during early childhood,” says Vice President and Volunteer Executive Director Amber Smith. “We look forward to positively impacting all Ithaca-area children by making high-quality toys accessible to everyone in the community.”
The ribbon cutting, taking place at 4:45 p,m. will feature speakers from the Toy Library and the Chamber of Commerce. For more information, please visit the FLTL website at: www.fingerlakestoylibrary.org or the Tompkins County Chammer of Commerce website at: https://business.
Featured photo courtesy of Flickr.