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I'd wanted to donate to Toys for Tots this year, and the first thing to do was to locate a drop-off box. I checked the internet site for Boston, and the link didn't work. I asked people who passed through South Station (where I'd seen drop-off boxes in other years) No, none there.

Well, there's still time. So this afternoon I was heading down the stairs at work, and passed the engineering firm on the second floor. Then I backed up and looked through the glass pane on the door. Big, gift-wrapped box, sign that says 'Toys for Tots.'

"Hi, I work upstairs. May I bring things for the drop-off box?"

"Sure."

Tomorrow I'm heading for the mall to get some presents. I came home and checked the Boston Globe on-line, as I do everyday, and found this link:

http://www.boston.com/giving/home/stories/truce.shtml

Toys that guide learning. Toys to help foster the imagination, and get children ready for learning. And since the Globe links disappear within a day, (although this one might stay around a while, given where I found it) I'll post the article.

Nancy

Guide targets quality of play

By Globe Staff, 12/5/2002


This is the eighth year the Globe is publishing the TRUCE Toy Guide. TRUCE (Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children's Entertainment) is a national group of early childhood educators based in Cambridge. While there are many holiday toy guides that are based on safety and popularity, TRUCE is the only list that focuses on the quality of play that a toy promotes.

A toy that makes the TRUCE "good" list, or "Toys of Value," means the group thinks the toy is likely to engage a child's imagination and enhance development. A toy that makes the "bad" list is thought to discourage imagination and undermine meaningful play. The age and price recommendations are from the manufacturer.

Toys of value

Tote Along Garden(manufactured by International Playthings, $15), 12 accessories, 6 pockets for sand and dirt play, recommended for ages 3 and up.

Junior Chef (Schylling, $25), 8-piece enamel cookware set, 3 and up.

Cutting Food Box(Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Toys, $20), 33 wooden pieces, 3 and up.

Pattern Blocks and Boards($15), ages 3 and up; Wooden 3-D Dominoes ($10), ages 3 and up; Wooden Magnetic Farm($8), ages 2 and up (all by Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Toys), a variety of manipulatives

Curiosity Kits (manufactured by Curiosity Kits Inc), especially Super Dooper Build

'em Up Sticks ($14), wooden sticks, dowels and beads; 4 and up.

Atollo construction kits (Atollo, $3-$26), sets of 24, 120, or 240; 5 and up.

Craft materials(by Creativity for Kids, $1.50-$2), individual packages of colored sticks, pom-poms, feathers; 3 and up.

Wikki Stix(by Omnicor, $6.25), flexible waxed yarn sticks, 3 and up.

Magnetic Wall(by Smethporth Speciality Co., $20), folding wallboard for use with magnets or dry erase markers; 2 and up.

Peg Loom(Harrisville Designs, $20), weaving for beginners; 5 and up.

Egg `N' Spoon Race(International Playthings, $20), balancing game; 3 and up.

Ring Toss(Schylling, $8) family game; 3 and up.

O Ball(Rhino Toys, $8), ball game; all ages.

Amazing Animal Trivia(International Playthings, $20), question and answer game; 6 and up.

Charades for Kids(Pressman, $14), an acting-out game, no reading required; 4 and up.

TRUCE also reminds parents to remember classic toys such as Lincoln Logs or Legos; blocks of all kinds; tool sets; puzzles; vehicles; people and animal props; dress-up clothes and housewares; balls; jump ropes; and books.

Toys to avoid

Star Wars Trivia Game (Hasbro, $30), hand-held electronic encyclopedia of Star Wars trivia; 6 and up.

First Impressions Loveable Lily(Leap Frog, $20), push various body parts and the frog recites numbers, colors, etc.; 1 and up.

Elmo's World Cell Phone(Fisher-Price, $10), press buttons to hear numbers and sounds; 18 months and up.

Amazing Christie Nails(Mattel, $10), 20 different nail fashions; no age recommendation.

Barbie "Make Me Pretty Talking Styling Head"(Mattel, $30), life-size Barbie head for styling hair that talks as you style her hair and do her make-up; 3 and up.

Barbie McDonald Playset(Mattel, $10), Barbie Pizza Hut Playset(Arco, $10), miniature equipment for Barbie to prepare fast food; 3 and up.

Kellogg's FROOT LOOPS Counting Fun Book(Harper Collins, $6), count out sugar-coated Froot Loops cereal pieces and place them in slots in the book; no age given.

Forward Command Post(Ever Sparkle Industrial, $40), 75-piece set of toy soldiers and weapons to create "fully outfitted battle zone;" 5 and up.

GI Joe Motorized Humvee with Rapid Fire Cannon(FunRise, $40), Army attack vehicle; 3 and up.

Lego Galido Toy Line(Lego, $15), 4 and up; Lego Alpha Team Toy Line(Lego, $9 and up), 6 and up. Two toy lines of interchangeable action figures and props designed for fighting.

Power Rangers Wild Force Action Set(Manley Toy Quest, $12), vest, mask, belt, sword for dressing up like a Power Ranger; 5 and up.

Barbie Pop Sensation(Mattel, $25), headset to wear while singing with Barbie; 3 and up.

Play-Doh Jurassic Park III Playset(Playskool, $10), clay and props; 3 and up.

Spiderman and Friends Action Heroes, including Crime Fighter and Police Officer (Playwell, $8), community helper action figures with faces and features of Spiderman; 3 and up.

WWE & WCW Professional Wrestling Figures($6), wrestling action figures who spout hostile comments when you push buttons; 4 and up.

Baby Shakespeare Find and Rhyme(Playskool/Hasbro, $35), from the Baby Einstein Toy Line, claims to teach object names and human expressions; 18 months and up.
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:)

And for those who live in Boston (or other areas) and don't have an engineering firm with a box in their office...

Best Buys have Toys for Tot boxes (I've seen one in 2 Best Buys here in the Boston area and one in a Best Buy in Western Michigan), and at least some K-marts do.

jenniebez
just picked up the last of her charity gifts, except for the books at Barnes and Noble
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And for those who live in Boston (or other areas) and don't have an engineering firm with a box in their office...

LOL!!!

I couldn't believe it when I saw the box sitting there. Online searches, asking people, peering in windows of buildings where I'd seen them other years, and there it was!

I dropped the stuff off today, and the receptionist asked what I had. (Not in a nasty way, just a happy, curious, 'Oooh, what'd you get?' way).

I'd found a kit that provided instructions on making those hemp bracelets, plus a collection of Dr. Seuss, some Make-it-Yourself stickers, farm animals, Silly Putty and crayons.

You know, I think I had more fun buying those presents than I did anything else I bought this year.

Nancy
really tempted to go out shopping again, but the budget won't bear it.
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You know, I think I had more fun buying those presents than I did anything else I bought this year.



I know what you mean! I really think it's the most fun I have at Christmas.

My mother and father in law gave us a gift card to Target for our 3rd wedding anniversary this year. For $300!!! (What were they thinking?! Who needs anything for $300 from TARGET!?)

Anyway, as we've been happily settled in with all the gizmos and appliances we need for the past 3 years, I was given permission by hubby to spend it all on Angel Tree and the like this year. Man, did I have fun!!! (Not all of it was toys- some was more pricey stuff like winter jackets for grown ups, winter blankets, sets of dishes. But it was fun, all the same!)
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My mother and father in law gave us a gift card to Target for our 3rd wedding anniversary this year. For $300!!! (What were they thinking?! Who needs anything for $300 from TARGET!?)


Oh, goodness! That's the kind of gift I ASK for!! (but my grandparents usually send $50 for me, and $50 for kidlet, not $300!!) Anyway, I could use a $300 gift cert to Target. I buy all my cleaning supplies, cat litter, personal stuff there, so it would last me 6 months or more (you don't have to spend it all at once, you know!) and stretch my budget.

Just offering another perspective. . .

Ishtar
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Oh, goodness! That's the kind of gift I ASK for!! (but my grandparents usually send $50 for me, and $50 for kidlet, not $300!!) Anyway, I could use a $300 gift cert to Target. I buy all my cleaning supplies, cat litter, personal stuff there, so it would last me 6 months or more (you don't have to spend it all at once, you know!) and stretch my budget.

Ishtar, I agree, and I think that's what the in-laws were thinking. But for us, the nearest Target is a 30-45 minute drive away, so it just wasn't feasible for "everyday" item purchases. We couldn't even use it as a "go once a month and stock up" deal, because we just don't have the room in our tiny apartment to store much "stocking up", especially since it'd have to be of things that we don't go through quickly like shampoo and laundry detergent. To top that off, we already have somewhat of a "stock up" on some items, and everything else we can get for cheaper at the local grocery store than we could at Target. Basically, we thought of that first, but there was nothing that Target carried that we could usefully purchase from them, even on a long term basis.

And I agree $300 was quite a lot! I don't know where hubbies parents come up with that kind of money, but I'm never comfortable getting gifts that large from them, especially since we aren't in a situation where we need it (we've both got semi-stable well paying jobs, and no kids). It made me feel a bit better to "spread it around" a bit, rather than keeping such a huge chunk for ourselves.

Had it come in a different form, like a certificate to the local grocery store, or as a bank cd (what we really need help with is saving for a house, which I'm very bad at doing), we could have made a more practical use of it perhaps. But, if you consider that I was going to be spending my own money on at least some of these gifts anyway, I guess you could say we did also use it to stretch our budget- just in a different way. And I got to give away a little extra, on top.
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Oh, goodness! That's the kind of gift I ASK for!! I could use a $300 gift cert to Target. I buy all my cleaning supplies, cat litter, personal stuff there, so it would last me 6 months or more (you don't have to spend it all at once, you know!) and stretch my budget.

Ishtar,

That's my perspective as well. Often times, Target has cat food and litter cheaper than the supermarket. I'd also get my laundry detergent, shampoos, conditioners, etc. there.

Donna
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But for us, the nearest Target is a 30-45 minute drive away,

Ahh, that makes sense! I think I bristled a bit at "who needs $300 worth of stuff from target?" *grin* my instant response is "me!" but I am rather selfish!

But, if you consider that I was going to be spending my own money on at least some of these gifts anyway, I guess you could say we did also use it to stretch our budget- just in a different way. And I got to give away a little extra, on top.

Cool!

Ishtar
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Ahh, that makes sense! I think I bristled a bit at "who needs $300 worth of stuff from target?" *grin* my instant response is "me!" but I am rather selfish!



Understandable, I phrased it very badly (sheepish look). I guess what I meant was "what makes them (my in-laws) think *we* need $300 worth of stuff from Target"- as they know just how far away it is from us. But part of me was thinking that the "everyday" kind of stuff at Target tends to be more expensive than at a grocery store- maybe that's just in my area- so I didn't think that anyone would want to go there for "basics". Maybe the prices compare differently where you are. For us, Target covers the more medium-range purchases, which don't happen all too often (need a new alarm clock, need some storage bins, need a new kitchen trash can...). For us, that card would have lasted us years and years.

I actually love Target, and wish it was closer to us, because we would be able to make much better use of it. When I lived in the Detroit area and there was one just down the road from me, it was a regular haunt. My husband and I registered there for our wedding, even.
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