Simplified: The Toy Lending Library's presence in Sioux Falls has grown significantly in the last year, and looking to the future, the goal is to keep growing statewide.
Why it matters
- Director Anelis Coscioni started the nonprofit in 2015 after she discovered the community need for kids to have better access to developmentally appropriate toys.
- Young children learn by playing, Coscioni said, and the toy boxes in the lending library are designed not only to get kids learning, but also to encourage caretakers to engage in play.
- The nonprofit is also growing quickly. In 2015, the Toy Lending Library checked out about 250 boxes for the entire year. In 2021, it was up to about 280 to 300 each month. So far in 2022, Sioux Falls area kids are checking out about 500 boxes each month – thanks, in part to a number of community partnerships.
"We have a huge reliance on partnerships," Coscioni said. "We grow stronger anytime we are working together."
How does the Toy Lending Library work?
Each box includes a toy (or set of toys), a book and some helpful information for caregivers.
The boxes are separated by age group, and each box also features a description of what skills kids can learn from the toys in the box.
- For example, one box with various colorful tubes and stackable pieces helps kids develop skills including colors, pretend play, task completion, independent play and fine motor skills.
Boxes are then distributed at 14 locations, including the Toy Lending Library office, all Siouxland Library locations and the Bookmobile.
"From my perspective is a true partnership," Siouxland Libraries Director Jodi Fick said. "We each take our strengths and make something that's easier for the public."
The nonprofit also relies on partnerships to ensure boxes are transported to and from libraries. And, through a partnership with Lifescape, the nonprofit gets help from volunteers of all abilities.
What happens next?
Looking to the future, Coscioni has a number of big goals for the nonprofit.
- She wants to see the Toy Lending Library expand statewide.
- She wants to see more community partnerships – up to 100 in the next 20 years.
- She wants to see more boxes that teach kids about others who have different abilities or different cultures.
- She wants to do more to use the boxes to help teachers.
Coscioni is also working to apply for more grant funding to help employ more people. Right now, the majority of the nonprofit's work is made possible through volunteers.
"The heart of the Toy Lending Library is volunteers," she said.
How can I get involved?
The biggest needs for the Toy Lending Library are:
- toy and book donations,
- and monetary donations.
"I want this to be self-sustainable," Coscioni said.