Dan Driver, co-owner of Jake's Toy Box in Arvada, Colorado, and one of the winning retailers in TDmonthly's "2012: A Year of Charity," said the giveaways are a fitting homage to his son Jake, in whose memory the store is named. His and his wife's mission has been to bring smiles to children through wonderful toys, and they certainly created plenty of grins the last couple of weeks by helping needy children in their local charities.
Lynn Martinez, manager of Partnerships and Resources at The Hope House of Colorado, which helps teen moms become self-sufficient said that they'd built one of the black Schoenhut Piano Company grand pianos and called a mother whose 3-year-old daughter showed musical talent.
"As soon as she saw it she sat down and asked to play," Lynn relayed to TDmonthly. "When I told her that she was getting a pink one she was so excited. She jumped right up! She could not wait to get it home so she pushed the piano in the box out the door and towards the car!"
The other toys inspired just as much excitement. "We have a Friday Fun Lunch and raffled off the toys; the moms got to pick age-appropriate prizes for their kids," continued Martinez. "It was great that SAFARI LTD.® had play sets that appealed to 7-year-old boys, because many of their moms have older kids."
The Hapeaprons came in handy for families in their residential program. The moms have to take turns making dinner, so the kids donned the aprons and helped cook.
The person in charge of Hope House's parenting education program was thrilled with the donated toys, especially the Magicforest Ltd. Balance game, which can be used to evaluate eye-hand coordination.
In late April, Stride of Colorado picked up their donation of incredible specialty toys. The total package that each charity received is worth approximately $1000.
Dan said the giveaway brought a big smile to the face of Carl, the Stride representative. Carl was especially impressed by the musical toys from Schoenhut and Magicforest because he's a piano teacher and donates lessons to kids owing to the therapeutic benefits of music. He will be sending photos to TDmonthly of the children enjoying their amazing toys.
Dan's final charity was The Family Tree, Colorado. The charity helps women and children to get out of abusive situations, avoid homelessness and become self-sufficient.
"We are very excited about the donation and hopefully the media attention this will bring to Jake’s Toy Box," said Dana Juniel, director of PR and marketing for The Family Tree. She succeeded in bringing focus to the event. Their Channel 8 came to videotape the giveaway is preparing a short feature on Jake's Toy Box and the donations.
Dan says that the giveaways have an extra bonus, as his wife has had a major health challenge and being able to bring so many smiles to so many kids through the incredible donated toys helps the couple feel positive.
Here are the incredible toys that Stride, The Hope House, and The Family Tree received:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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