Toys. . .
So your kids are in school and you walk past the toyroom or their bedroom. Ugh! You think: ‘I can hardly see the floor in there! Every time I try to organize it, it lasts for a week or so, then it’s back to this mess! What can I do about the toys?’
Well, do you remember the toys you had growing up? You probably were able to keep them orderly. Think back. Just how many toys did you have growing up? I’ll guarantee it’s nowhere near the volume our children have today. Our kids are practically drowning in toys. We have whole rooms dedicated to the overflowing bins of fast-food giveaways, stuff from grandparents, birthday parties, Christmas, et cetera. I feel that kids today are overwhelmed by the amount of toys they have, yes, even burdened by them. It’s definitely an overwhelming task for a child to clean up all those toys!
Now don’t get me wrong—I don’t have anything against toys. I just think we have too many of them. It is time to discard the toys children don’t play with or have outgrown. So, how do you do it?
- When is the best time to purge toys? Short answer: When the kids are gone.
Long answer: Purging toys when kids are home is pointless. You must tackle it while they are away. Most children get attached to their toys even if they don’t play with them any more, (they are like us, holding on to clothes we never wear!) and they will promise to play with them. Don’t believe it!!!
- What if something is valuable or has sentimental value?
Real-life example: My friend has a train table her husband made. She asked me if she should get rid of it, stating that her son never plays with it. I advised her to remove it from the room and hide it for a few days to see what happens. See what her son’s reaction is and decide whether to reinstate it. Since our talk, I thought: Why not talk to your son about selling the train table and then buying some toy or sports equipment he has been wanting?
- Where do I take used toys? Have a favorite thrift store? Donate them there. It’s a good idea to call first to save yourself a wasted trip or a runaround trying to find a thrift store that has room. Locally, The Mission is my favorite, followed by Salvation Army and Goodwill. Don’t forget the preschool or nursery nearby, which is likely to accept toys. It’s a good idea to call first.
- Where do I donate used story books? That depends. Most towns have used bookstores that sell books on consignment or will buy them outright. You could make it fun and use the proceeds for an ice cream cone together or a trip to the Pharmacy (A Grant’s Pass icon;
old-fashioned soda-jerk counter and all). Another good way is to donate them for a good cause. Local schools have annual white elephant sales and they LOVE to receive children’s books. You are doing 2 good turns: helping the school raise funds and getting a book into the hands of a child who will love it.
- Will my child be emotionally scarred if I get rid of toys while she is gone? No, 8 out of 10 dentists agree that letting go of toys is part of growing up. Seriously, folks. I’m not saying get rid of their cherished items, like the panda bear that has been their lovey since age 2, or the quilt their grandma made them. Store those precious mementos in a safe, dry place like a cedar chest, a labeled cardboard box, or a clear plastic tote. I keep one box of baby clothes and special toys for each of my children, which I will give to them (with their other belongings) when they are settled.
- How do I organize the toys once I’ve purged? Short answer: By category.
Long answer: See the picture I’ve included. Some categories for starters: Legos, wooden toys, cars and other wheeled toys, people, balls. One great tip for even small children to put away their own toys, take a picture of the kind of toys that belong in each bin as an easy label. Or, just draw a simple picture and tape them to each bin. It worked for my children!
- Can I get tax credit for my donations? Yes!
Whenever you donate to a thrift store or a school, library, etc, be sure to record it. The number of books, and the approximate value are helpful. Thrift stores will give you a receipt with your name on it, but they don’t write even the number of bags/ boxes you donated. Make a note RIGHT then on the slip with the number of bags you donated and the general contents like: Household items, books, toys, clothing, shoes . . . you get my drift.
Just make sure that the organization is legally a nonprofit, says accountant John Warekois.
“They have to be a qualified nonprofit organization; it’s good to get a letter from the organization saying they are a non-profit.” He described a client of his who had claimed some donations as tax deductions, but the IRS denied the deductions because the organization was not registered as a nonprofit. So be careful!
To recap: purge your toys, use these tips, make the results fun for the kids by using the profit for something they desire or a special outing. And claim your due from Uncle Sam!
Resources for You: John Warekois, CPA, Medford. http://www.oregontaxcpa.com/
Local bookstores: Oregon Books, http://www.powells.com/sell-books-online will buy used books in good condition. In Medford: Rogue Book Exchange: (541) 779-1326, Village Books, (541) 779-7576, HQ Books: (541) 779-2326
Grants Pass Thrift stores: Gospel Rescue Mission: (541) 479-9748, St. Vincent DePaul: (541) 476-5137, Goodwill: (541) 479-6000.
Medford Thrift stores: St. Vincent DePaul: (541) 772-3828, The Salvation Army: (541)773-7335, Refashion Consignment: (541) 772-2302, Goodwill: (541) 772-3300
Freecycle.org is a great place to give away items you don’t need to someone who wants them. See article: http://www.moneycrashers.com/freecycle-network-free-stuff/
Tax deductions knowhow: http://www.moneycrashers.com/charitable-contributions-tax-deductions/