On Thursday June 22nd, 2017, The Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting at Ithaca’s brand new 501(c)(3) nonprofit Finger Lakes Toy Library, which is located in Suite 106 of the Clinton West Plaza. The new Toy Library is operated by a board of four directors, who were there for the ribbon cutting. Business-people, city officials, granting organizations, community members, and many kids ready to play were on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Our community toy lending library on Clinton Street will function for toys and play much in the same way that the public library functions for books and reading. The toy library collection currently consists of over 400 items, most of which have been donated by community members whose children have outgrown them. Toys were also purchased using grant funds, such as eco-education toys thanks to Sustainable Tompkins and literacy-related toys thanks to the Friends of TCPL. Toys available for borrowing will initially be suitable mostly for children under the age of 7, but the toy library will also have an all-ages board game and puzzle collection available from the start. In addition to the lending of toys, FLTL hosts playtimes throughout the greater Ithaca-area.
Jennifer Tavares from the Chamber of Commerce began the ceremony thanking Debra and the board for their efforts, and spoke of the innovative nonprofits that drive change in our community. City of Ithaca Deputy Director of Economic Development Philly DeSarno remarked “This is a great idea! I can’t tell you how wonderful this is, and thank you for initiating this important endeavor.”
The Toy Library was a 2017 recipient of a Howland Foundation Grant from the Community Foundation of Tompkins County, and Community Foundation CEO and Chamber Board Member George Ferrari was on hand, stating, “We’re very happy to be involved, and to see your space – inviting, warm, and welcoming. Everyone has a memory about a toy, and you’re doing this in a way that builds relationships and enhances economic development when families have the resources they need to provide opportunities like this for their kids.”
Debra Lewis, Founding Board President of the Finger Lakes Toy Library gave a speech welcoming folks to the space, as well as thanking the sponsors and donors that helped make the library a reality. An excerpt from her speech is below:
“It was just about two years ago, when my daughter was about 8 months old, that I started thinking that Ithaca needed a toy library… I had been aware of the toy library in Rochester, NY, while previously living there, and I knew that the Ithaca community would embrace the creation of a toy library here,” Lewis said. “I couldn’t be happier to be here today, in a toy library that’s ready to lend toys to the community, surrounded by people who helped to make it happen, and who believe in our vision, and in our commitment to stand up for the importance of play in the lives of all of our children.”
“If I may be cliche for a moment, it takes a village, and as our toy library grows, it will be community members joining together that will make it a success,” she continued. “I am certain that more play will make for a happier community for all, as we focus on the children, and foster joy and wisdom in them, and in our families, and in ourselves.”
Debra thanked the Howland Foundation and the Community Foundation of Tompkins County, 84 Lumber Company, Danby Hardwoods, Hallagan Woodworking, Warehouse Carpet Outlet, Sustainable Tompkins, Friends of Tompkins County Public Library, HABA USA’s Outlet Store in Skaneateles, Amber Smith: Board Vice President and Volunteer Executive Director, Secretary Alexandra Appel and Treasurer Melissa Thompson, Olivia Hall, Sarah Smith, Molly Petzoldt, Sarah Langley-Sopchak, Tompkins Trust Company, Alternatives Federal Credit Union, Ithaca Agway and True Value, Dryden Mutual Insurance Company, Purity Ice Cream, Life’s so Sweet Chocolates, Miss Angie’s Music, Insero and Co. CPAS, Agava, and Ithaca Bakery.
“Thank you all for your support, which has been invaluable in helping us to open our doors, to offer a sliding scale membership fee with no minimum, and to begin to establish Finger Lakes Toy Library in our community!” Lewis said of our area businesses and organizations. “Please take a look at the list of businesses which is on a page included with our membership packets, and show your support to these businesses who have supported your toy library.”
The toy library is ready to sign up members and membership information can be found on the website. Sign up for a membership in person during open hours. For the summer, the toy library will be open on Sunday from 10am-12pm, on Monday from 5:30pm-7:30pm, on Tuesday from 9:30am-11:30am, and on Wednesday from 10am-12pm. Please stop in and become a member soon! They will be closed for the holiday from July 2 – July 4.
The mission of FLTL is to improve quality of life by increasing access to toys, supporting play, and encouraging a culture of reuse and sharing. The Finger Lakes Toy Library is an incredible example of the support that businesses, not-for-profits, and community members give to each other as together they support community needs, such as nourishing the development of our children through play with a community toy library.
For more info on the Finger Lakes Toy Library, please go to – www.fingerlakestoylibrary.org