A friend of mine recently introduced me to Dohui Kim, a board member of Toy Lending Library of South Dakota. I found out more about the non-profit organization founded in Sioux Falls to “create opportunities for children birth to 5 years old to enhance their learning development through play.
This is a free program available at Siouxland Libraries and recently expanded to Humboldt and Hartford library branches (see side bar for locations) and has “toy boxes” families can check out. Each box has a label that states the “age-appropriate toys” and it also comes with a book.
“It all started when we learned that there are too many families that didn’t have toys to play and learn,” said Toy Lending Library of SD executive director Anelis Coscioni. “Then it grew to a good thing to do if you care about our footprint, if you don’t want to have lots of toys in your house, if you’re babysitting, if you’re a grandparent and grandkids are visiting, if you want to try a toy before buying it, and if you’re plain smart with your money. Why buy if you can borrow it, return, and get more, free?”
Benefits of Play
1. Helps coordination, balance, and motor skills.
2. Helps children develop new ideas and creativity.
3. Relieves stress, and lets children work through anxiety and fears.
4. Lets children make their own decisions and make connections between choices and natural consequences.
“We have 566 toy boxes circulating at 11 library branches in the Sioux Empire.” – Anelis Coscioni
Members of Siouxland Libraries can simply use their library card to check one out. Appointments are encouraged, and returns are flexible.
“The main Toy Lending Library office has the biggest collection, so we encourage parents/caregivers to schedule an appointment to visit us by calling or emailing,” said Coscioni. “We’re happy to reserve specific boxes per request as well. You can keep toy boxes for a month and renew if you want to keep it longer.”
According to Coscioni, toys and books switch up often.
“[We encourage people] to return to our office often as our inventory changes weekly,” she said. “It’s as simple as borrow, take home, play, bring back, get more.”
The nonprofit also is very careful when it comes to safety concerns.
Give the Gift of Play
Sponsor a box for just $50 a year at toylendinglibrary.com.
Close Toy Boxes: One to two hours a week.
Label: Label toy boxes.
Office: Fold surveys and add tails to bookmarks.
Photoshop: The team teaches you the basics for what they use to make toy labels and the volunteer can help produce the labels.
Toy Cleaning/Sanitizing: Once a week or once a month.
Uber Toy: Deliver toy boxes to locations and return used toys for cleaning.
Find more details at helplinecenter.org.
“Before creating any boxes, we thoroughly go through toys including checking each toy’s recall information,” said Kim. “Also, we take the box sanitizing process very seriously. Every toy checked out will get sanitized carefully.”
The toy boxes are for ages 0 to 5, so I asked if 605 could try them out and have my 1 year old, Owen, give it a whirl (and let’s be real, I love children’s books).
I was pleasantly surprised that a lot of the toys were ones that we had on wish lists for special occasions. On top of that, there were so many other options I hadn’t seen before, and he had a blast mixing up his play regimen. I can’t be alone feeling guilty because I have the “go-to” toys he plays with over and over again, as it’s a strain on the wallet and there’s only so much room in our home.
Find Toy Boxes
Caille Branch – 4100 Carnegie Cir., Sioux Falls
Downtown Library – 200 N Dakota Ave, Sioux Falls
Oak View Library – 3700 E. 3rd St., Sioux Falls
Prairie West Library – 7630 W. 26th St., Sioux Falls
Ronning Library – 3100 E. 49th St., Sioux Falls
Brandon Library – 305 S. Splitrock Blvd. Brandon
Garretson Library – 649 Main Ave., Garretson
Hartford Branch – 119 N Main Ave, Suite A, Hartford
Humboldt Branch – 201 S. Main St., Humboldt
Valley Springs Library – 401 Broadway Ave., Valley Springs
This is a great way to constantly keep creativity fresh, and I can’t believe it’s free. On top of that, it’s another fun book (I needed a Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? cleanse) that you return for another. And this is up to 5 years old!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (605) 215-0575.
When chatting with Coscioni, one snippet really stood out to me:
“Parents are busy with their day to day priorities such as providing food and shelter. [Toy Lending Library SD] can take one thing out of their list,” said Coscioni. “They can borrow the toy boxes. They can play with their children. They can read them the book. And, they can learn from our informational materials. It just feels good.”