1-800-GOT-JUNK? Gaithersburg participates in toy drive

Monday, April 06, 2015

Donations can be made starting next week.

In honor of Earth Day, upcounty area misfit toys can discover a brand new home.

Residents of Montgomery County with an extra toy, or dozen, to spare can donate them next week to GOT TOYS?, a joint effort between junk removal company 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and nonprofit Second Chance Toys.

Those who wish to donate can do so on April 13, 15 and 17 by dropping off their gently used toys at the Gaithersburg 1-800-GOT-JUNK? located at 7905 Cessna Ave. in Suite A between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Those who are unable to get to the office can arrange for employees to come to their home and pick up what they wish to get rid of.

Jennifer Cournoyer, the operations manager at the toy collection and donation nonprofit, explained that while New Jersey-based Second Chance Toys has hosted toy drives similar to this one in the past, they have never worked on such a large scale.

"We are now working with 11 different franchises from Washington, D.C., to Boston," Cournoyer said.

She said the two groups will be collecting toys in honor of Earth Day, which is on April 22.

According to Cournoyer, making children smile and getting toys to disadvantaged children is one part of the mission, but it's also really important to both Second Chance Toys and 1-800-GOT-JUNK? to keep plastic out of landfills.

"We are estimating between 100 and 150 toys [will be] collected per GOT-JUNK? location. That's about 600 pounds of plastic left out of the landfill for each franchise, 1500 toys. That's three tons of non-biodegradable plastics that they are keeping out of landfills," Cournoyer said.

Gregory Frank, the vice president of development at Gaithersburg's 1-800-GOT-JUNK? location, sees the newfound partnership lasting for more than just this drive.

"Second Chance Toys just really complements what we"ve been doing," Frank said. "Helping our clients feel good about letting go, it's a lot easier knowing it's going to go on to do good for somebody else." Cournoyer explained that Second Chance Toys was founded in New Jersey in 2006 by Sasha Lipton, who was in high school at the time. The nonprofit began their relationship with area 1-800-GOT-JUNK? locations in 2008.

"We estimate they have transported over 100,000 toys," Cournoyer said. "When we have a large amount of toys, we really wouldn"t be able to do it without their trucks." She said that 1-800-GOT-JUNK? provides their trucks, manpower and time free of charge to the organization.

"When [they] collect [the toys] after [they are] done getting them from the community, we make sure they are clean, have batteries," Cournoyer said. "We take the quality of our donations seriously." After the toys are fixed up back into like-new condition, they are ready to be given to children.

"Any toys that are collected, and this goes with every collection, they stay within those very communities that they were collected in," Cournoyer said.

Second Chance Toys introduces each of the local franchises to an organization in their community that helps disadvantaged children or families in order to donate.

Gaithersburg's 1-800-GOT-JUNK? location takes pride in the fact that nothing they haul away goes into a landfill, according to Frank. Instead, the company donates as much as they can to local organizations in need and the rest gets recycled. Whatever is left goes to the transfer station at Shady Grove, where it is processed and sent to a plant in Dickerson, to be burned for energy.

"We are fortunate that the county has these resources," Frank said, noting that though it is expensive, it's what they choose to do as a company. "We believe certainly that we have to play our role and make the right decisions in disposing of waste." The toys from the Montgomery County drive will be going to a "local recipient organization serving disadvantaged kids," according to Cournoyer.

"I really think this type of program let's people know, yes it has sentimental value, but it can bring great memories to a child and family in need," Frank said.

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