Starting A Toy Co-Op

House over-run by toys no one plays with? Learn what a toy co-op is and how to start one.

Let's face it, toys are expensive. You go to the store and buy a toy for your child, and where do you find it in a week? Buried under the bed, toy box or stuffed in a closet somewhere. There are very few toys that become your child's favorite and most of them are just good for a short time until they lose interest. That "˜I had to have it' toy has now turned into an "˜I don't even remember I have it' one. The best way to deal with this situation is to start your own toy co-op. A toy co-op is like a library for toys. Each week you take your child to the toy co-op and let him choose a new toy to play with for a week. By the time the week is up, he will probably be tired of the toy anyway and you can take him back to check out another!

Starting a toy co-op is fairly easy if you can find a space to hold it in. Most churches have community houses or spare rooms within them, contact your local churches and see if they might be willing to let you use a room. If you can't find room in a church, check local businesses, neighbors with extra room in their basement, garage, etc. Someone has a spare room somewhere and won't mind letting you use it to store a few toys in!

Your toy co-op doesn't have to be open every day: it can be open one day per week. The group of parents you start the co-op with can all take turns manning the co-op each week. All the "˜librarian' has to do is write down in a notebook who took what toy and when. If there is a specified time the toy should be back, phone calls or post cards can be used to remind the child it is time to return the toy. Every family has toys laying around that no one plays with anymore: your co-op may be packed from the very first day you open it.

It is a good idea to have a volunteer who can wash the toys with a disinfectant to keep the spread of germs at a minimum: this can be something the adults take turns with. Large Rubbermaid type containers can be used to store the toys in and a piece of carpet or a throw rug will make a nice area for kids to test out their toy before they check it out.

Toy co-ops are a great idea and can really be of value in areas of low income where children may not have many toys. This is a great community project and an opportunity for the whole family to get involved in something together!

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