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More than 3,000 children have received toys and 9,000kg of plastic has been saved from landfill since the Toybox Project was launched in Caerphilly two years ago.
The community interest company (CIC), was set up by GP practice manager James Morgan, 39, at his home in March 2021.
As a child, James didn’t have many toys. Coming from a disadvantaged background, the toys he did have were mainly second hand. For James, “second hand was second nature”.
In his job, father-of-three James noticed an increasing number of families who were struggling to make ends meet – inspiring him to launch the Toybox Project.
The project rehouses used and unwanted toys for disadvantaged children from across south Wales.
Over the last two years, the volunteer-run project has continued to grow. In 2022, James opened a shop on Clive Street, Caerphilly, to keep the donated toys.
He has since moved his operation into a warehouse on Bedwas House Industrial Estate, taking in around 200 to 300kg of unwanted toys each week.
The toys are cleaned, checked, and put on display in the warehouse ready for collection by teachers, health visitors, nurses, and social workers, before being donated to low-income families.
With the numbers of toys being collected doubling over the past two years, the project is expecting to be donating toys to 3,000 children a year.
James said: “More than 90% of all toys are made from hard plastic which cannot be recycled in the general household waste.
“Many toys such as building blocks, role play sets, dolls and action figures are timeless. If they are not broken or worn, they can be passed on and enjoyed by another generation of children, rather than going into landfill, where they will remain for thousands of years.”
He continued: “As a father of three boys under ten, our house is overflowing with toys that the children have outgrown or don’t play with, and I am sure many homes across south Wales are much the same.
“I grew up in a single-parent family where I had very few toys, so I know how it feels to have nothing. So rather than throw toys away, we want to encourage people to bring them to us so we can rehome them.
“Amid the current cost-of-living pressures, it’s more important than ever to recycle items and offer unwanted toys to those who can’t afford them.”
James’ work hasn’t gone unrecognised, with Wales’ climate change minister, Julie James, highlighting his efforts.
Ms James said: “Initiatives like the Toybox Project are a brilliant idea. It’s a great example of people taking action locally to help reduce their impact on the climate.
“If everyone across Wales could do their bit by reusing unwanted toys, rather than throwing them away, it would make a huge difference to the amount of waste ending up in landfill each year.
“It will also go a long way to helping us to create a greener, cleaner Wales.”
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