Playing with stuff
Aveiro | Portugal
How everything started?
Miguel: Share Toy started around one year ago.
Pedro: I had some broken toys and I proposed to a few people to repair them with me. We decided to combine volunteering with the technical knowledge we are gaining during university courses.
Miguel: Since then we meet every Wednesday for 5-6 hours repairing toys through 3d printing, sewing, cleaning, putting electronic stuff together, etc.
Pedro: It’s not only about toys, it’s also about developing our skills, about the environment, showing people that they can repair things instead of throwing them away.
What do you do with the repaired toys?
Pedro: We give them to different groups, sometimes directly to children, like at the hospital in Aveiro, sometimes through NGOs, which avoid us to meet with children directly to not overexpose them. This year there was a fire near Aveiro and we are trying to reach affected families, see if the toys can be useful for them.
Miguel: Although we operate at the University of Aveiro, broken toys come to us as donations from different parts of Portugal. Last year it really boomed. We talked to the university newspaper and they shared our story with other media. Suddenly we started to receive a lot of calls with requests for interviews.
Pedro: Already after four weeks of activity we got to national TV and radios.
Wow! That’s fast. And why did you actually decide to get involved?
Miguel: I've been a scout for 16 years. It just feels good to help others.
Pedro: I like building things and repairing. And I like when somebody can appreciate it. I always had toys as a kid but it’s not true for all children. It can get really emotional to share. Last year we donated 250 repaired toys.
What will be the next step?
Miguel: We definitely want to continue, the university loves this project and supports us fully. This year we want to target Erasmus students, organize meetings in English. We try to expand the project a bit.
Pedro: I would like to spread the idea to other universities, not only Share Toy Aveiro, but also Share Toy Porto, Lisbon, who knows maybe one day we even get to other countries.
What would you say to those who want to follow your example and become changemakers themselves?
Miguel: Look around. When you are aware of your surroundings, you can change stuff. Some people close their eyes and they don’t see problems, they don’t realize how easy it can be to change something.
Pedro: You don’t need anything special to make a difference. At the university we do so much work just for a grade, or to make the teacher happy. Thanks to Share Toy we make our know-how useful: while learning we help the society, make children happy, improve things, teach students how to repair their own stuff.
They had the opportunity to distribute some toys last Christmas, even with the pandemic, but they weren’t able to perform a public toy fundraiser, like in previous years. They only used toys that they couldn’t fix in past editions. Despite the unusual year, they managed to make some children happier at Christmas, and it fills their hearts. They hope that this year will be better and that they can fix and give more toys!
More about Share Toy: facebook.com/sharetoyua