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Kids’ Toys Kicked To The Curb…

Never has the saying ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ been so evident before as it is today — in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

What should you do about toys you see for free on the curb?

I had actually been meaning to write about this for awhile, but now it rings true on a whole different level…


Kids’ Toys Kicked To The Curb

A kiddie pool left in the trash for the garbage men to take away.When I see children’s used toys piled up at the curb on garbage day, I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t SOME little boy or girl who wouldn’t find SOME value in a used (maybe even broken) new plaything.

I know, I know… who wants broken toys? Or worse yet, what if a child got hurt using something that was defective?

True. But what if they’re just dirty from lack of attention?

What if they’re just not being used anymore?

What if the previous pint-sized owner just got bored with it? Or outgrew it?

What if the “high-tech” parts are broken, but the item can still be played with?

This is one of those 'electronic' books... only the 'voice' doesn't work anymore. Any child can give a storybook a 'voice'... Just remember:

  • ‘Broken’ doesn’t always mean ‘hazardous to your health’.
  • Nor does it necessarily mean that the toy is non-functioning.
  • Most used playthings can be washed and even disinfected.
  • There’s nothing wrong with hand-me-downs.
  • What’s ‘old’ or ‘boring’ to some might be ‘new’ and ‘fun’ to others.


Lazy? Spoiled? Or Just Too Much Stuff?

In this day & age, it’s probably all of the above.

Truth is, it doesn’t really matter the reason an item is no longer being used… what matters is who might find some value in that item.

Yes, there are those people — perhaps even the majority — who only want new, clean, unused toys for their children. That is fair. (Especially for babies.)

The one in this picture is new, but the fact remains... puzzles are great fun for kids -- even if there's a piece or two missing! But what about those who would appreciate any toys for their children? What about disadvantaged children? What about those who don’t have any toys anymore… like those who’ve lived through hurricanes, tornadoes, and the like?

My point is… I think that far too many parents (especially those in some of the “wealthier” neighborhoods) are simply kicking stuff to the curb rather than passing it on to someone who might find some value in it.


Pass It, Or Trash It?

Old vacuum cleaner, baby gear, and some children's toys in the trash. By the looks of the garbage piles in my neighborhood, most parents simply don’t want to fuss with finding a new home for old playthings.

Some hand-me-down toys. Children can turn even the simplest things into fun times... from a Daniel Boone cap to boomerangs and paddle balls. Practically every garbage day I notice something that (at least from a distance) looks like it could bring a smile to another child’s face. And I have to do everything in my power not to snatch it up and take it to some donation site. (If there was a sign that said “FREE!” I would feel more comfortable taking such items.)

I hope this post will open the eyes of at least one parent who typically tosses old playthings to the curb (to live out their days in tall heaps at the local landfill), to instead consider donating some of those items in the future.

Stuffed animals and plush toys can be cleaned in the washing machine!

Use your own judgment, but please do the right thing.


Places To Donate Used Toys

  • Donation centers like Goodwill or the Salvation Army
  • Day care facilities and pre-schools
  • Churches and shelters
  • Virtually any non-profit charity or community service organization

You could also…

  • Offer it for free or cheap at a yardsale (yours or someone else’s)
  • Give it away for free through a program like Freecycle
  • Save it for when friends or relatives visit your home.
  • Put a sign that says “FREE!” next to any reusable items on your curb.


What Is Worthy Of A Donation?

For the most part, I say SO WHAT if toys have been used & abused by other children. Consider them “broken in”!

Back in the day... This is my brother on a hand-me-down ride-along toy. I made him pose for this photo when we were playing with my dolls... He's gonna kill me if he sees this! Can’t you remember back when you were a child enjoying your Big Wheel with the wobbly back wheel that made it possible to only ride in small circles?

What about the baby doll with the lopsided hairdo, because you cut off one of her ponytails? (I did this… on the same day I cut off my own ponytail at the age of 4!) My little cousin still loved that doll.

What about the Easy-Bake-Oven that doesn’t “work” anymore, but still makes a great prop for the kitchen in a child’s playhouse?


Case In Point:

The night before garbage pick-up, here’s what I spotted in front of one house in my neighborhood (left photo).

Kids toys and bikes in the garbage. One man's trash is another man's treasure!

Then, the next morning I noticed a couple of the kids’ toys were gone (right photo). I can only hope that someone who could use those items either took th
em for their own, or the owners reconsidered and chose to donate them for others to enjoy.


Pets Need Toys Too

Some used kids toys could also serve as dog toys! And don’t overlook the fact that some children’s toys also make great playthings for pets. For example, a child’s swimming pool would be welcomed by many for use as a doggie bathtub, or as a way to provide a large supply of water to dogs who spend their days outdoors.

The local animal shelters would welcome such things as old toys, shoes, blankets, newspaper, tennis balls, bowls, leashes, collars, etc.



  • You’re never too big for Big Wheels… no really! They now make adult-sized big wheel “toys” for big boys. These adult Big Wheels can hold a 180-pound driver, thanks to twin steel axles and four rear wheels.
  • Here’s an interesting read from someone who makes a habit of “rescuing” items from others’ garbage piles. Check out “Confessions Of A Dumpster Diver“.



I forgot to mention that ‘curbside’ is where we obtained our current weedwacker from! Yep, one of our neighbors had kicked it to the curb — probably because it was leaking oil and had a touchy starter. Jim gave it a tune-up and we’ve been using it problem-free for over 2 4 years now.

We also got a great soccer ball from someone’s trash can — the dogs love it!

And my niece’s favorite toy of all time is something I found at Goodwill for $1.50. It’s a Leapfrog caterpillar that lights up, plays songs, moves when you pull it across the floor. Why it was probably sent to Goodwill: the batteries were dead.

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