Following a week of volunteering at a daycare in San Pedro, Costa Rica, this spring Lyndzey Tefft had already decided that this holiday season would be dedicated to making sure that Costa Rican children would receive new toys for Christmas.
Tefft, 23, a student at Worcester State University and graduate of St. Peter-Marian Junior-Senior High School, volunteered for nonprofit group Maximo Nivel for a week in April at Los Gatitos daycare center.
The children at the center ranged in age from infant to 12 years old.
At Los Gatitos, Tefft spent her week playing games, doing arts and crafts, and singing Spanish songs with the children.
As part of her effort to get new toys for the Los Gatitos children, Tefft has started a toy drive and has begun raising funds at Giveforward.com to ship those toys to Costa Rica in time for Christmas.
According to Tefft, the children at the daycare center had a limited number of toys and games to play with — and the ones they did have were broken.
“They literally had nothing,” Tefft said. “All of their toys were really, really old and dirty. I thought this would be something nice to do to replace them.”
There are five locations in and around Worcester to drop off toys: World Gym at the Greendale Mall, The Compass Tavern on Harding Street, The Nines on Millbury Street, Planet Fitness in Milford and 146 Fitness in Sutton.
Large boxes are at each location for donations.
According to Tefft, she has collected roughly 40 toys so far and is hoping to collect as many as she can before she ships them at the end of next week.
Once she has enough toys for the 20 children at Los Gatitos, Tefft will ship any extra toys to the Maximo Nivel headquarters in San Jose, Costa Rica, for them to disperse among other daycare centers and orphanages.
“They like hands-on toys and anything involving outdoor activities — any kind of outdoor ball. They love coloring books, bubbles and stickers. And, of course, dolls and action figures,” Tefft said.
Although the Costa Rican school year ends soon, Tefft also says that children desperately need new school supplies.
“School supplies are always needed,” Tefft said.
Any extra money raised beyond the shipping costs will go toward the purchase of more toys and school supplies.
If you would like more information on how to donate to Tefft’s toy drive, contact her at LTEFFT@WORCESTER.EDU.