Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Toy Library has lots of fun to offer

Marcos Vazquez Jr. of Belmont and his cousin Cindy Labriola of Woodland enjoy the Toy Library in Woodland. Courtesy photo

April 12, 2011 |

Imagine a library that lends toys. Great idea, isn’t it? We could use one of those in Yolo County, right?

Well, the surprising news is that Woodland already has a Toy Library — but most county residents don’t even know it exists.

According to Simona Villalobos and Jaye Shupin, the “toy coordinators” of the library’s board of directors, this unique lending library is in danger of closing its doors due to declining membership and insufficient volunteer support.

Located just east of Freeman Park in Woodland, the Toy Library is tucked behind the United Way at 1017 Main St. It’s packed with potential fun: scooters, board games, dress-up kits, teeter totters, superhero figurines, tents, doll sets, trains and musical instruments are just some of the toys that appeal to children from 6 months to 12 years old.

For many parents who use the Toy Library, borrowing toys is an ideal solution to two common difficulties: limited funds to buy toys and limited space to store toys. Most of the library’s stock consists of used toys that are donated to the library by local families.

“How many toys does your kid have that just sit on the shelf?” asked Shupin. “Some other kid could be playing with those toys.”

Some of the donations are set aside for the annual Toy Library rummage sale. Proceeds from the sale support the library’s low maintenance costs, as well as allowing the library to purchase new toys to diversify the inventory.

Unfortunately, the red-and-white sign announcing that the Toy Library is open has been up less and less frequently these days. The Toy Library is a nonprofit cooperative that has always been organized and staffed completely by volunteers, most of whom have been parents of children who use the library. As their children have grown up, the original group of volunteers has moved on to other things, and recruiting and coordinating new volunteers has been challenging. Shifts have gone unfilled, and patrons, frustrated by the limited hours, are drifting away.

The Toy Library is seeking more patrons, volunteers and supporters, with eventual hopes of moving into a more heavily trafficked location downtown. A free annual subscription to the library is being offered for volunteering a nominal amount of time, and donations are also accepted.

“My children love the Toy Library,” Villalobos said. “I’d hate to see it close — it’s such a great asset to the community.”

“There are (cities) … much bigger than Woodland that don’t have anything like the Toy Library,” Shupin agreed. “I’m proud that we do. We should keep it going, and we can keep it going — we just need more people to give a little bit of their time.”

For more information on the Toy Library, email yolotoylibrary@gmail.com or call (530) 666-2918.



Special to The Enterprise

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