Antrim and Newtownabbey toy initiative has 'demonstrated a need in the borough'

Antrim and Newtownabbey councillors have agreed to the council facilitating a Christmas toy collection for a fifth consecutive year.
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A report presented to a meeting of the council’s Operations Committee on Monday, said the initiative has “demonstrated a need in the borough”. It was proposed to organise collections again this year in partnership with the Habitat for Humanity charity.

Habitat for Humanity has stated the quality, range and types of toys that were donated was “excellent” and in total, 5,106 toys were donated, As well as providing toys for children across the borough, the initiative diverted more than 5.6 tonnes of waste from landfill, the report said.

However, it was noted the total was “slightly down” on last year. It was suggested this was due to the cost of living crisis and an increase in people selling good quality toys through online marketplace sites.

In total, 5,106 toys were donated. Pic: Local Democracy Reporting ServiceIn total, 5,106 toys were donated. Pic: Local Democracy Reporting Service
In total, 5,106 toys were donated. Pic: Local Democracy Reporting Service

The report noted: “Following from the success of a pilot in 2020 and further collections in 2021 and 2022, it was recognised that there was a significant demand and need for the scheme.”

Collection points for the donation of good quality pre-loved toys were located at each of the borough’s five household recycling centres. As in previous years, donated toys were repaired, cleaned and sold on at reduced prices in Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore shops and two pop-up shops at Mayfield Village Hall and Muckamore Community Centre.

Any outstanding toys have been donated by Habitat for Humanity to local playgroups, nurseries and Women’s Aid charity, to ensure that all toys donated reached children in the borough.

Commenting on the report, Antrim Ulster Unionist Councillor Leah Smyth said: “This is a wonderful initiative and very popular. It helps a lot of families. I am glad to see it happening again this year. ”

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Airport Sinn Fein Cllr Maighréad Ní Chonghaile commented: “It is a great initiative, particularly in times of such a cost of living crisis. It makes a difference to families in need.”

Antrim DUP Alderman John Smyth said it is “an excellent scheme” but remarked that uptake was “down a bit” in 2023.

An officer replied: “Our numbers were down a bit but we believe it is a result of the financial situation.” He went on to say that more individuals are selling toys.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter