WEST ORANGE, NJ – After a recent council meeting where Councilwoman Susan McCartney announced West Orange Township’s partnership with Second Chance Toys as part of its recertification with Sustainable Jersey in order “keep plastic out of landfills,” residents were invited to “shop and swap” donated toys that have been dropped off at the township’s newly installed industrial container.

The container was installed earlier this year at the West Orange Environmental Center (590 Mt. Pleasant Avenue) as part of a yearlong project following the success of a toy-recycling initiative that took place on Earth Day in conjunction with Second Chance Toys.

Bronna Lipton, executive director of Second Chance Toys, explained that the industrial container was installed in order to collect donated toys with the expectation of collecting 1,000 to 1,500 toys before the summer.

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A “clean team” was then brought in to clean the toys so that residents could attend an event held on Sunday, where residents shopped and swapped the donated toys that will now be shipped to the charitable organizations affiliated with the organization.

According to Lipton, Second Chance Toys promotes the collection of “gently used toys,” which are then matched with organizations that have signed up with Second Chance Toys and distributed to children in need.

“To date, we have donated over 350,000 toys, but we still have need for 400,000 toys,” Lipton said prior to Sunday’s event, further explaining that 15,000 toys are regularly needed in Essex County alone. “It’s a win-win for the environment; for children in need [by] putting toys into their hands.”

Lipton added that the program is not only free to the public, but also can accumulate points for Sustainable Jersey.

McCartney said that by participating in this program, the township will also be able to save money because of the reduced waste going to landfills.

“The bottom line is we save tax dollars the more that we recycle,” she said.

Lipton thanked the township council for adopting the toy-recycling program in West Orange.

“Thousands of pounds of plastic are being kept out of the waste stream and are being kept out of the West Orange waste stream in particular, and that would happen each year,” said Lipton, adding that putting “these tools of play” into the hands of children in need will help them “creatively [and] emotionally.”

Second Chance Toys, which currently operates out of 12 recycling centers in 12 towns, hopes to eventually expand to every county in New Jersey.

Earlier this year, West Orange was selected as one of 36 New Jersey municipalities to receive a Sustainable Jersey grant funded by the PSEG Foundation and one of seven to receive a grant in the amount of $10,000.

“We are excited with this opportunity and the support of Sustainable Jersey,” Mayor Robert Parisi said at the time. “We are grateful for their work with the hardworking members of the Open Space Commission and looking forward to the continued improvements this funding will bring.”

The grant awards are distributed to municipalities in order to fund a range of projects, such as green infrastructure, park restoration, single-use plastic reduction campaigns, rain gardens, environmental resource inventories, creative place-making, green team capacity building and more.

Joe McCartney, chair of the West Orange Open Space Commission, accepted the grant on behalf of the township.

“From climate change, to water, waste and equity issues, so many of the big sustainability concerns are reaching a crisis point,” said Randall Solomon, executive director for Sustainable Jersey. “This investment in sustainability projects will have lasting benefits to New Jersey. We're seeing exciting results from previous grant projects, and we are looking forward to similarly productive, innovative progress from the current group of awardees.”

Barb Short, president of the PSEG Foundation, added that PSEG is proud to have contributed $1.9 million in funding to the Sustainable Jersey grants program for municipalities and schools because it “puts resources where they’re needed and aren’t always available.”

She also noted that Sustainable Jersey helps “bring real change” and has a “lasting impact to neighborhoods throughout New Jersey.”