The Long Island Toy Lending Center in Farmingdale is an organization that lends toys to children with disabilities all across Long Island. Managed and operated by Colleen Moseman since she started it 28 years ago, the Toy Lending Center has helped many families to borrow toys that are specifically tailored to meet a child’s special need, such as autism and other issues like Down syndrome and various cognitive and visual impairments.
Moseman said she purchases toys from various stores through endorsements from the state, private foundations and fundraising campaigns. Donations of gently-used items are also graciously accepted and appreciated. Some of the toys that the center uses must be specially ordered from a catalog called Enabling Devices, which features items that specifically cater to a child’s specific need. For instance, the Shooting Stars toy is one that employs music, vibration and lights, which resemble shooting stars, to stimulate a child’s sensory experience. The Light-up School Bus must be activated by a lighted musical tambourine switch plate. It is through these toys that Moseman is able to ensure that the children and their families are really benefiting from the program.
This center actually started out as Lekotek, a national organization that began in 1986. However, after funding was cut by the Nassau Library System five years later, Moseman made the decision to create the Long Island Toy Lending Center as a nonprofit. At the time, she was at full capacity of 60 families and had a long waiting list, making the need for this service a must.
Similar to a lending library, the Long Island Toy Lending Center has children visit their central location at the Farmingdale Public Library. Here, the kids and their families have the opportunity to pick which toys (up to six) are best suited for them, play with them for an hour and then bring the toys home for one month. After the month is up, the family returns to the center and starts the process over again, making sure to bring the toys back in suitable condition. An emphasis is placed on incorporating the whole family into the process, so as to provide the child with a better support system and a fuller experience. Twenty-six families from across the island are enrolled in this program to date and Moseman hopes that more will soon join.
However, the fun doesn’t stop there. A respite is offered once a month at the Point Lookout location for families who simply need a break from everyday life. Students, mostly from Lynbrook High School, arrive at the center’s facility and help with various activities aimed at giving back to the community. Team groups are also set up once a month on a Sunday with the goal of bringing children bowling, to the movies
and other activities around town. These are usually led by Moseman, who places an emphasis on “having the kids interact and socialize with one another.”
Unfortunately, after Hurricane Sandy, the Point Lookout location was mostly destroyed. Yet, with generous help from volunteers led by George Povall from Point Lookout, along with help from Jim Schmiemann of JPS Electric and Joe Pando of Pando AC, among others, the center was able to be rebuilt.
Moseman said, “I have been fortunate to be able to serve children and their families in a fun and creative way to fit their needs. I’m right up there with Santa Claus in the eyes of the children.”
Along with visiting the website, www.longislandtoylendingcenter.com, families can call 516-889-8287 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.