She so amazing that she became an ExperTeen at age 7!
Project: Riley’s Toys Foundation
Hometown: Mechanicsburg, PA
In 2009 Riley saw a news show about a school at a Darfur refuge camp in Africa. The images of the students playing with dirt and rocks inspired Riley to help by sending her own toys to Africa. She recruited her preschool friends to do the same and then asked a local business to collect toys to send to the African students. In just two years, Riley has formed a nonprofit foundation, Riley’s Toys Foundation, created 10 donation centers, and shipped more than 18,000 toys to children in Africa. Riley hopes that all recipients will know that someone, somewhere is thinking about them as each child loves and plays with his or her new toy.
Helpful people and orgs:
World Vision ships the toys to Africa for us. They have people there who are able to capture the stories and get photos of the children with their first-ever toys! World Vision also has relationships with businesses and has been able to help us get donations from toy companies like Hasbro.
We also needed a warehouse to store and ship the toys from. A local organization called Mission Central lets us keep our toys there and ships them for us when we get 10 skids loaded up.
Special training or skills needed:
None, just a good idea and the energy of my parents to support it.
How to get toys to Africa:
When we started it we had no idea how we would get the toys to Africa. We started telling more people about the project and through networking. We learned that the more people who know about it, and the more people start talking about it, someone always knows someone else who can help.
How to reach out to other orgs:
It was really through networking. Someone in our town saw our flyer and sent it to World Vision. But there are other companies that have helped and it just takes asking for help. People and businesses want to help the community, they truly do, but if you don’t ask, you are not giving them the opportunity. So we ask everyone we see!
We needed packing materials, online marketing and social media.
Social media = websites for
social networking (like Facebook).
Word to the wise:
Take a lot of notes, your ideas will come at crazy times of day so be prepared to capture them. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends, family, and schoolmates.
How to jump on the movement:
We are always looking for folks to run a short term toy drive in their community. That can be your neighborhood, your school or your town. We also want people to start spreading the word about Riley’s Toys Foundation. So you can help us by following us on Facebook and checking out our Website. There is an online story book there about how Riley’s Toys came to be and you can share that story via email or any social media outlet.
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