Sayville.com 4/27/11 - Last January, when 6th Grader Luke Kleppan’s mother, Rosann, told him about a Newsday article she’d read entitled “Toys Get Another Turn to Thrill Kids”, Luke’s reaction was, “I want to do that!”
The January 18th article by Jennifer Barrios talked about “Second Chance Toys”, a New Jersey-based nonprofit organization that keeps plastic toys out of landfills and distributes them to needy children. “I think this is really good because it’s a win-win situation. It takes toys out of landfills and puts them into children’s hands,” Luke said.
Luke’s parish, The Church of the Good Shepherd in Holbrook, generously allowed him to hold the toy drive there. He created a flyer to pass among the church members asking for clean plastic toys with no missing parts, new batteries sizes AA to D and disinfecting wipes. The congregation responded with over two hundred toys, packages of batteries and cartons of wipes which were stored in the church basement. That’s where I met the crew consisting of family and friends. “We’re cleaning, assorting and making sure they all work. We’re putting fresh batteries in (the toys) to make sure they’re ready to go when the child gets them. We also check the consumer protection recall list to be sure they are safe,” Rosann told me.
“We called organizations to find who needed the toys. Matthew, the recreation and education director of The HELP Suffolk in Bellport – a homeless shelter, was happy to get the toys. He said there were about 175 kids there,” Rosann explained.
“We spent about 50 hours planning, collecting, cleaning and organizing,” Luke said.
The Kleppan’s Auntie Ann was there to help. “I’m very proud of Luke for doing this and I’m happy to lend a helping hand.”
Friend and fellow church-goer, Maria Pavek, was “glad to be of help (and to give many toys!) I believe this inspires others and my son, Cortland, to do similar things.”
Rosann told me that “right now we have about 250 toys. Some of them are brand new, still in the original wrapping.”
According to the Sayville Middle School, students are encouraged to do a minimum of seven hours community service a year. Those who surpass 50 hours are presented with a presidential recognition certificate of community service. I think Luke Kleppan, with the help of his crew, has reached that lofty goal and has made us all proud!