Now that the holidays are over, you may be feeling overrun with the net result of the seasonal gift-fest, especially when it comes to your kids’ toys. And if “simplify and organize” is one of your New Year’s Resolutions, there may be nothing more exasperating than the sight of the cotton-stuffed menagerie taking over your child’s room, and possibly even escaping into other regions of your home. Besides, other than a special lovey or two, do our kids ever really play with these things? I can look at nearly every stuffed animal my kids have and remember who gave it to them, or when they got it, and while they were all gratefully received and loved a little (if not a lot), there comes a time when they really are just taking up space and adding to the overabundance of stuff in our lives. They served us well, and fortunately, now that their time has come, I have found a great way to both get them out of the house and give them new life and purpose:
Stuffed Animals for Emergencies (SAFE) is a 14-year-old non-profit which consists of various chapters around the country who will accept donations of new and gently used stuffed animals (and in some cases toys, books and baby blankets too). They then give these items to local organizations dealing with children in emergency situations such as fires, accidents, abuse, homelessness and natural disasters. This is recycling at its best: not just repurposing an item’s parts and materials, but repurposing something in a way that brings joy to someone who needs it.
There are a fair amount of chapters across the country, but if you wanted to take this one Red Pill step further, you could even start your own chapter, with your child, and get them started giving back, learning empathy, and appreciating what they have at a very young age. And if you or your child wants to remember all the animal friends that they’ve had along the way, you could always take photos and make a scrapbook, or even have a farewell party!
My 8-year-old daughter saw the SAFE web site over my shoulder as I was writing this and asked about it: as soon as she understood what it was all about, she immediately said she wanted to donate her stuffed animals. My kids are packrats, treasuring every little gewgah that comes home from the treasure box at school, or in a goodie bag from a party, and it drives my tidy Virgo nature bonkers, to say the least — plus, being Red Pill Mama and all, I really don’t want them growing up being so focused on things and stuff and possessions. But there is certainly a fine line between allowing it all to multiply freely and coming down so hard on them about it that they horde every superball and broken plastic yo-yo with ferocious tenacity. Just letting my daughter know about SAFE seemed to do the trick — and that’s a beautiful thing.
Now if I can just get my son to stop collecting candy wrappers …
– Red Pill Mama