New toys every week without the clutter or cost — that was the inspiration behind the Comox Valley Toy Library, which is now celebrating its first year in operation.
The idea to offer members up to five toys every two weeks for their children to play, and then exchange for new ones, originally came about from founder Rebecca Mohrs.
Volunteer co-ordinator Andrea Woodrow said she and Mohrs got seven members together to create a board and began accepting donations from the public.
Their original facility was a space inside the LINC, with memberships costing $20.
Woodrow said the fee is waived for families with low income, adding they also offer one-time memberships of $10 for families, friends or grandparents who want toys when children come to visit.
In September, the office next to the Courtenay outdoor pool became available and the library moved in, offering more space to display their more than 200 available toys.
“It’s great for parents because they don’t have to go out and buy things, and it cuts down on the amount of clutter they have at home,” explained Woodrow.
“Part of the idea is to encourage sharing and help the environment by not having to buy so many plastic things, and save money too.”
From games to trucks, puzzles and blocks, the library offers a variety of items suitable primarily for younger children, but there’s toys for older children too.
Woodrow said donations are always welcome, with a particular request for Lego, which they currently do not carry. Toys must be easily wiped clean, as they are sanitized between loanings; stuffed animals are not accepted.
The organization is currently looking for a new space once the swimming season begins and they have to vacate their current location — Woodrow hopes they will be able to find a central, roomy, easily accessible spot for little-to-minimal rent.
“We would love to offer a space for groups to meet, for moms to come together and catch up over coffee while the kids can play.”
While continuing to spread the word about the library, Woodrow said one of her goals in the upcoming year is to break down any concerns parents may have, including breaking or damaging toys.
“We hope to change some of the reasons why parents may not want to come. There are so many toys and we understand that if one is old and it breaks, we don’t charge for that,” she noted.
We understand when pieces go missing and we hope it doesn’t deter people from coming in.”
Another long-term goal is to establish some sort of ride-share program for families who visit the library from farther distances, reducing the amount of driving, which works well with the library’s vision of helping the environment, added Woodrow.
The organization is hosting its annual general meeting Feb. 2 at 5:30 p.m. at the Comox Recreation Centre, which is open to the public. Woodrow said she hopes to add some diversity to the volunteer board (“we’re all moms with young children”) and encourages anyone interested to contact her or to volunteer at email@example.com, or visit www.cvtoylibrary.weebly.com.
The CVTL is open Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesdays from 10 to 11 a.m., and Thursdays from 1 to 2 p.m.