by Greg Volz
When it comes to toys, it seems that only brand new will do. The Peninsular Senior Citizens’ Toy Repair Group has a surplus of second hand toys it can’t give away.
“The surplus has gradually built up over the last two years,” says Lloyd Allen, President of the group.
Mr Allen says the group has been repairing toys to give to charities for over 35 years and has over 50, mainly local, charities on its books.
There are a number of reasons why supply had outstripped demand, according to Mr Allen.
He said that older toys were not passed down in families anymore and instead were thrown out. Toy prices had also come down. “You can buy a brand new bike for $50 dollars now.”
He said that health and safety concerns also made it hard for charities to take some things, such as soft toys. “Even though the toys are washed, charities don’t know where they have been or whether they have bacteria on them.”
Surplus toys are not confined to the northern beaches. Rose Ren works at the Salvation Army store in Blacktown. “We sell second hand toys, like teddy bears, for one dollar, but we don’t sell that many,” she says. “People tend to come in to buy furniture and clothes rather than toys.”
Mary Kitchen, who is Secretary / Treasurer of the Senior Citizens’ Toy Repair Group, is responsible for liaising with any new charities. “We have managed to send some soft toys to a children’s hospital in Cambodia, but more are available,” she says.
Lloyd Allen says the repair group is looking to tell more charities about their work and get them along to the regular distribution days. There is a web-site under development.
The group has 33 active members. Mr Allen, a retired Qantas engineer, specialises in fixing bicycles. Mary Kitchen is part of a team who clean and restore dolls.
“They do a great job fixing them up,” said Sandra Gillett, Manager of the Cubby House Toy Library in Dee Why. The Cubby House provides toys to kids with additional needs and regularly collects them from the group.
Distribution days take place at the workshop in Ingleside. The next one will be held in two or three months and charities that wish to participate can contact Mary Kitchen on 9997-6279.