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Toybank – a non-profit organisation has been set up with the aim of providing toys to children who come from a weak socio-economic background.

At Toybank, we strongly hold the belief that every child, irrespective of his social & financial background has the right to make the most of his/her childhood. While accessibility to a decent education is of prime importance, one should not overlook how important a role can indulgence in extra-curricular activities help in shaping/ moulding the lives of these children as and when they grow to evolve as strong, responsible individuals. After all, these are the very same children who will represent the face of a better globe, a responsible globe.

We, as the citizens of the largest democracy constantly complaint how our system (political) has time and again failed to live up to its expectation. But just because the system has failed to deliver, it does not necessarily mean that we grow indifferent. Why wait for the system to react to a catastrophe rather than we, as responsible individuals act. What’s the harm in doing a bit of our own to bring about a change in the lives of those who aren’t blessed with a fair chance to achieve success in life?   

Vision: To reinstate the joys of childhood & become a strong medium investing in the overall development of a child (belonging to a weak socio-economic background) who has been deprived of a fair chance to achieve something worthwhile in life.

Why Toys?
If we were to travel down memory lane and recollect the best days of our lives, undoubtedly it would be the days of our school time. A carefree life indeed with time slots meant for only 2 activities, namely PLAYTIME (the more, the better) & HOMEWORK TIME ( the less, the BEST). (The current scenario is obviously different altogether with channels like POGO, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon etc strongly vying for attention.) Simply put, it is almost impossible to think about childhood or young children without thinking about play. In fact, for children play life itself. Through play, they learn concepts, relationships, cause-effect theory, sizes, colours, textures, feelings, emotions, sounds among others. They learn many things about themselves, others and the world through toys. While an aeroplane can instill an ambition, a G.I.Joe or Superman can build a sense of power and confidence or a Barbie doll could bring about compassion.

At a more serious level, apart from us (grown-ups), when children themselves contribute toys for a cause, it shows their generosity and willingness to part with something very personal to them. A bright future in the making.
Operational Areas

The operational procedure has been divided so as to achieve maximum mileage through minimum hassles. The areas defined are primarily - Educational Institutes, Churches, Corporate Firms & Residential Complexes

Educational Institutes:
• Attend PTA meetings and encourage active participation by the parents in their own  way
• Involve teachers in encouraging students to practice contribution of their toys. Keep it simple – One student. One toy.
• Ask the class monitors to volunteer in the collection of toys from his respective class.

• Toybank posters to be put up at the notice board
• 2-minute talk about Toybank ( by the father) during Sunday prayers
• Have a carton box at the church premise which acts as a collection centre.

Huge Corporate Firms:
• After seeking the permission from the CEO, have a notice circulated inviting contribution / volunteership from the employees.
• Allocate one of the dept. say the HR to take charge of the collection.

Residential Complexes:
• Approach the society members (secretary/ chairman) and put up posters/ pamphlets on  their notice board.
• Encourage discussions about Toybank during their general/weekly meetings.

Collection Process:
Every alternate weekend (for churches & societies) and Fridays (for educacational institutions & firms), a vehicle covering one particular eg. Andheri (east)

Distribution Areas:
Municipal Schools, Municipal/Govt. Hospitals, Orphanages, Construction sites, Slums.

At Municipal Schools/ Hospitals:
• Set up a room almost like a crèche wherein the kids come and play with the toys on a regular basis. Eg. During a free lecture (in schools)
• As and when the number of schools covered under Toybank grows, the toys can be shuffled say once in 3 months so that the children experience variety.

At Construction Sites/ Slums:
At these places, there’s always a feeling in the minds of the potential contributors (of toys) whether their contribution will be utilized properly or will it be sold for monetary needs. To tackle this, pro-active games can be organized for the children. A competition (eg. Sac race, count from 1 to 10, running race, sing a song, dance) wherein the winner gets a prize. There are no losers however as every kid gets a participation prize. Having earned the prize, the kid will be reluctant to part with it.

Toybank projects covered so far:

Project_Children’s day: On the eve of Children’s day, the 13th of November,2004, Toybank ventured on its first project. The area covered was Andheri’s Asha Kiran Charitable Trust who have taken up the cause of educating street children in Mumbai. They have 5 branchs in all as of now operating in and around Lokhandwala. Three cars, 1 mid-sized tempo, 1 bike, 14 toybankers –3 joined the band-wagon post-lunch, over 500 toys and last but never the least over 350 smiling faces. Aided by Mr. Sharma, who led the team to all their centers, the first center was outside a shop, Glory (Four Bungalows), where the team’s interaction with the children was a good and encouraging start indeed. Thereafter, the Toybankers went to Nana Nani Park (Yari Road), followed Juhu-Versova Link Road, MHADA and to an orphanage Sneha Sadan (Amboli) and the children’s ward in Cooper Hospital by noon. In the second half of the day, we went to the Juhu-Versova Link Road, Nana Nani Park and MHADA branches of Asha Kiran to distribute more toys. By the end of the day, Toybank had distributed more than 500 toys. The most exhilarating part about the venture was interacting with the children and getting to know their dreams and aspirations and yes, their talent. The smiles on the children’s faces were unmistakable, especially the ones at Cooper Hospital.

Project Christmas: The eve of Christmas was dedicated by the toybankers to adding MUSKAAN into the lives of around 25 kids. Muskaan is again an NGO working towards providing education & shelter to around 25 little angels mainly in the age-group of 2-5 yrs. Muskaan has taken up the responsibility of nurturing these kids till they reach a state of self-reliance. We were fortunate to be invited by them on Christmas eve to be a part of a small get-together they had organized for the kids. One of the toybankers – Vikram dressed himself as Santa Claus and gave away the toys. The children were jumping up with joy on seeing their favourite Santa amongst them. The distribution of toys numbered roughly around 60.

Project Valentine’s Day: Sticking to our motto of adding joy and love to the lives of small children, Toybank geared up for its third project in co-ordination with Mobile Creche who are working towards educating young kids of construction site workers. They are doing a commendable jod having set up around 18 centres in Mumbai itself, apart from other cenres across India. Owing to time constraint and the location of the centres situated wide apart, we were able to cover only 3 of their centres situated in the vicinity of Mulund. In the forthcoming weeks we plan to cover the remaining centres as well.    

On behalf of Toybank, we Shweta Gopal & Sunisha Kunjappan would like to participate in the interaction dedicated to street children. For any further query, please feel free to call either of us

Sunisha - 98673 76315
Shweta - 98920 77071
Toybank - Help us find their lost childhood.