Multi-award winning Hape began in 1986 as Hape GmbH, which sold educational wooden toys directly into German kindergartens. Founded by Peter Handstein, Hape has always had a mission to create beautiful and engaging toys with minimal impact on the environment and with maximum benefit to its workers. In 2004, they were the first toy company to begin manufacturing an eco-friendly line of toys made from sustainable bamboo.
As part of its mission to become one of the top toy companies in the world and to lead the marketplace in innovation and sustainability, Hape (pronounced “hah-pay”) acquired Educo, located near Edmonton, Canada, in 2004. Today the Hape range of 300+ products can be found in more than fifty countries around the world through its network of specialty retailer and school supply stores and catalogs, and the company staff of more than 900 employees.
No matter how large the company grows, Peter is also committed to ensuring that everyone who works for him has benefits and becomes a member of their extended family.
“Wherever we operate, all of our employees share in a benefit program that offers time off for illness, a pension and unemployment insurance,” states the company’s website (www.hapetoys.com).
Hape has also built three schools in Xingren, within the Gùizhōu province (one of the least developed areas of China), approximately 1,500 miles west of company headquarters in Ningbo: Maria Hope in 2003 (in honor of Peter’s grandmother, Maria Handstein), a Second Class in 2008 and in January 2012, they opened the Yuzhang Central Kindergarten. The first two schools currently provide education for 500 children from five to ten years old. The new kindergarten will service 180 children to start, but should expand its roster to include 300 children within a month. The company also provides scholarships for gifted children both within their schools and in other schools as well.
The company has held opening ceremonies for all of its schools, which allowed the community to celebrate with performances by local children, firework displays, and tributes by local and national government officials. The new kindergarten also received a shipment of more than $20,000 worth of Hape’s educational toys to start its school year on a playful note.
“It is impossible not to be impressed by the enthusiasm of these children, as well as their eagerness to learn,” said Peter. “Prior to construction of the new schools, many of them walked up to three hours a day – through astonishingly rugged terrain – to attend classes. It is my hope that our company’s contributions and support will provide the communities with a more rewarding learning experience, and help prepare them for the future.”
Hape’s charitable efforts are not limited to education, however. In 2010, they donated $45,000 worth of toys to schools in the Si Chuan region, which had been devastated by an earthquake the year before. Peter and a delegation from the Beilun Government delivered the toys in person to the province, where they were able to witness the challenges the recovering area faces.
In addition to creating eco-friendly toys built from sustainable materials, such as bamboo and wood, the Hape factory is also designed to have a minimal impact on local ecology. It maintains strict quality control and purifies water that is used in the manufacturing process.
The company has also expanded its role in China from production to marketing: in 2009, they established Hape Shanghai to service the growing affluent population there.
This year, in addition to opening the kindergarten in China, Hape will be giving away 100 high-quality educational toys through TDmonthly’s “2012: A Year of Charity” program, in which specialty retailers will compete for a chance to donate the toys through their stores to local children’s charities.
“The TDmonthly Year of Charity Program is a perfect fit for our ideals,” stressed Robin Lehnert, Marketing Manager for Hape. Other companies who have already signed up to participate in this landmark event are Safari Ltd.®, Schoenhut Piano Company, and MagicForest Ltd.
To have the chance to be one of the winning retailers, please email to following information to firstname.lastname@example.org: 1. Your name 2. Store’s name, address and phone 3. Year founded 4. Local children’s charities you currently work with 5. Number of events you have per year in store 6. How many of those events are covered by local press? 7. Why do you want to be one of the retailers selected to give away 100 top-quality specialty toys to your local children’s charities?
Below, you can see the products Hape and the other companies will be donating:
String-Along Shapes are first toys that encourage coordination, dexterity, imagination, and simple problem solving. This brightly colored set of 30 maple shapes includes two strings that turn blocks into a train, a caterpillar or a tower. The possibilities are endless and so is the fun. Shapes are approximately 1.25' wide each.
Everything tastes better when you've got the right accessories. These safe and simple toys revolve around food and cooking, to promote realistic role play, and encourage healthy eating. The Apron Set includes an elasticized chef's hat, quilted oven mitt and bright orange-trimmed apron. The mitt and apron fabric is exclusive to Hape.
Detailed replicas of tropical marine life and a realistic coral reef surround this young diver with a wild underwater adventure. Exquisite sculpting and attention to detail make this the ideal gift for any child. The packaging features educational information in 5 languages on the back. All Safari Ltd.® products are phthalate and lead free and safety tested to safeguard children’s health. We take pride in the quality, innovation and design that have characterized our products for over 3 generations. Flippers, Fins & Fun Gift Set Includes: Dolphin, Sea Turtle, Queen Triggerfish, Grouper, Coral Reef, and Freddie the Free Diver. Box Size: 11” W x 4.75” H x 4” D (28 x 12 x 10 cm)
Join all the fun down on the ranch with our attractive accessories that complement the Safari Ltd.® Farm collection. Complete with fences, hay, entrance gate and a water trough, this set makes a perfect companion with our Down on the Farm Barn & Stable in addition to our Safari Ltd.® Farm animals. Children can let their imagination roam as they simulate life on a ranch. All our products are phthalate-free and thoroughly safety tested to safeguard your child's health. Safari Ltd.® takes pride in providing breathtaking, innovative and value priced replicas for now over three generations.
Schoenhut ® Piano Company: "Leader in the World of Toy Pianos since 1872" Schoenhut’s® bright red, 18-key tabletop is the perfect choice for a toddlers first piano. Both fun and educational, it is an ideal instrument to use for developing eye-hand coordination and encouraging musical creativity.
Chromatically tuned, the lovely chime-like notes are produced by little hammers striking precision-ground, German steel music rods (versus the conventional taut wires used in full-sized models).
Schoenhut’s® patented Learning System, with its play-by-color teaching method, makes playing simple and fun. A removable color strip fits behind the keys to guide small fingers from chord to chord. The chart also works on adult keyboards, since keys on Schoenhut® toy pianos are of corresponding width. This teaches children proper "finger stretch" from the very beginning. The accompanying Songbook contains a collection of familiar tunes. This Learning System has been specially designed to build a child’s confidence and develop basic playing skills.
Imported / Materials: hardwood and hardboard / Recommended age: Three and up
This versatile 25-key piano measures 17" x 12" x 12" and is designed to grow with a child. The main unit, decorated with a whimsical animal's head, sits safely and squarely on the floor within easy reach of a toddler's hands. Later on, the sides with the animal's body can be attached, raising the piano to a comfortable height for an older child seated at the bench. The spacing between the keys is the same as that of a full-sized model, teaching proper finger placement and affording an easier transition to a large piano.
This Schoenhut 30-inch Acoustic Guitar is a unique introduction to playing for the aspiring young musician. It offers not only great sound and playability, but an affordable price which is attractive to many first-time players seeking a "better-than-average" beginner guitar.
Schoenhut's miniature version of a baby grand piano is designed to encourage a child to play and develop a love of music. Elegant in appearance with graceful spindle legs, yet extremely durable and sturdy, it makes a beautiful addition to any home. Lovely chime-like tones are produced by small hammers striking metal rods, the sound that makes Schoenhut toy pianos unique. The two-and one-half-octave span of full-width keys provides a good foundation for the transition to a larger model. Includes: Schoenhut's Learning System and bench. Awards: 2013 TDmonthly Seal of Approval
Music is a wonderful opportunity for little ones to expand their sensory and imaginative personality. Music helps them to understand rhythm and harmony, and also to express themselves and their moods. This set of percussion instruments from Sevi is an easy way to get kids started. It comes with 8 pieces, including a tambourine, castanets, a triangle, maracas and a noise maker. Produced by Sevi, Europe’s oldest wooden toy company, this product contains parts and components that are recommended for children ages 2 and up.
Noah’s Ark Balance Game comes with pairs of brightly painted wooden animals and can be played either cooperatively or competitively by the entire family. Kids learn about weight distribution and how the shape of an object affects where it is able to be balanced. Played against an opponent, kids learn to place animals just so their opponent has difficulty finding a spot for their piece. Pieces are the perfect size for ages 3+. Kids can also work together to see how quickly they can stack all the animals on the rocking ark. Sevi is Europe’s oldest wooden toy company.
Writer's Bio: ALISON MAREK is an award-winning writer, director and cartoonist whose work has been published by Fairchild Publications and DC Comics (Piranha Press), broadcast on Showtime and other cable networks, and viewed worldwide in film festivals. See her short films and print work on www.alisonmarek.com. Watch her nefarious villains in the web series www.MuggsMovers.com. Get inspired by her cartoons "Daily ARFFirmations to Unleash Your Inner Fido" at www.ARFFirmations.com. Phew! And then ... Read more articles by this author