When you were a kid, what did you do with your toys if they broke? Did you toss them in the trash? Try to sell them at a yard sale or donate them to Goodwill? Maybe your parents were handy and could fix them up so they were as good as new. If you have kids of your own today, you know how many toys a youngster can go through over the course of a few years. Whether the toys break or they grow out of playing with them, I don't know one parent whose children don't have at least a few toys in their closet that aren't getting played with.
Recently, an organization in Japan has come up with a way to give old toys a new life, but, believe it or not, it has very little to do with toys. Second Life Toys' idea is simple. They accept donations of old stuffed animals in good condition that are no longer played with. Then, when someone's stuffed animal breaks, they can mail it in and receive a transplant from one of the many donations. Finally, the stuffed animal is sent back to its owner, all fixed up and ready to be played with again.
This would be a clever idea on its own, but Second Life Toys is trying to do something even more important with their work. You see, Japan is far behind the rest of the world when it comes to organ transplants. Because of old, restrictive practices, many patients aren't able to receive the life-saving transplants they need. While some legislation has been updated to help this issue, Second Life Toys is hoping to change the conversation about transplants and show children of a young age the power of organ donation in action. Keep scrolling to learn more about Second Life Toys and get a first-hand look at what a "stuffed animal transplant" looks like.
This stuffed giraffe used to have a ripped leg, but, thanks to Second Life Toys, it's all fixed up.
Second Life Toys pairs broken toys with unused toys, providing transplants that give each stuffed animal a second chance at life.
Not only is this a great way to upcycle old toys, but it also teaches children an important lesson about organ transplants.
Second Life Toys was founded in Japan, a country that, up until recently, was providing a mere 10 transplants a year to patients in need. To put that in perspective, the United States completes around 60 each day.
So, why is Japan struggling to provide transplants to patients, and what can we do to help?
One of the biggest things that kept patients from donating and receiving organs was the 1997 Organ Transplant Law. It made it so that children under the age of 15 weren't allowed to consent to transplants, while adult transplants were only legal under ultra-specific circumstances.
Thankfully, new legislation, as well as adding donor consent forms to driver's licenses and other IDs, makes it easier for transplants to happen in Japan.
But things are far from perfect, which is where Second Life Toys comes in.
The biggest changes come in the form of the next generation, so what better way to change Japan's future than educating children about the importance of transplants.
When a child receives a toy from Second Life Toys, they're given a physical representation of the power of transplants.
Similarly, children who donate their old toys receive thank you letters that show them how much happiness their old toy's limb brought another child just like them.
"Using toys as a motif, this project expands the notion of organ transplant, by making it an enhancement, rather than a compensation," said Misa Ganse, director of the organ transplant group, the Green Ribbon Campaign.
We can't think of a better reason to have such a unique toy collection.
To learn more about Second Life Toys, check out the video below. Then, visit their website to donate some old stuffed animals of your own.
Don't forget to SHARE these important stuffed animals with your friends and family!