President Report - 2020

Carnegie Toy Library

Annual General Meeting - 10th March 2021

It's no surprise that 2020 was an incredibly challenging year for the toy library, and our committee worked harder than ever to ensure we could operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. We were deeply committed to supporting our family members during the multiple lockdown periods, knowing that so many were under severe financial pressure and/or suffering the mental health effects of the pandemic.


We also suffered significant financial hardship during the pandemic, losing some of our key income sources while also incurring additional operational expenses to meet COVID-safe requirements. Multiple grant applications were submitted by our committee and successfully received. This financial support, along with federal assistance and the loyal backing of our members, enabled the toy library to stay strong through lockdown closures and continue to provide our wonderful service to the community.

Here’s what we achieved...


We successfully ran our first 'Click & Collect' service.

We emerged from lockdown with our first ever COVID-safe 'Click & Collect' borrowing system for members, ensuring that families around Glen Eira could have continued safe access to quality toys to enrich their children's play and development.

We ran the service by operating with strict COVID-19 protocols to support the 'Click & Collect' model permitted by DHHS. Members had to book their toys through our online catalogue and reserve a pick-up time. All returned toys needed to be clean and were quarantined for a further 7 days. Members collected pre-ordered toys outside of the building at allocated appointment times, strictly observing social distancing. We considered our ‘Click & Collect’ service safer than a trip to the supermarket!


Our members.

Our members happily used our 'Click & Collect' service. Borrowing toys became a life saver as playgrounds were closed during the lockdown periods with many children being kept out of daycare due to parental loss of income or health concerns. We received so many positive messages from our members during lockdown periods - who were so thankful to be using our service.

Due to the extended closure periods throughout the year our membership numbers dropped slightly by 16% and at the end of 2020 we had 298 members.



At the toy library.

In between lockdown periods our committee volunteers added in new shelving to house our growing collection. We consolidated the costumes section to make room for the games, puzzles and school skills categories.


The exterior entrance area was given a facelift and painted blue to align with our branding.


Our toy collection.

Our toy collection comprising of 2,500 toys saw old toys consolidated and the arrival of 263 new additions - 219 toys purchased through grants and 44 donations.


Due to the extended closure periods our toys were borrowed for much longer periods, resulting in a large number either damaged or containing missing pieces. Our committee spent numerous hours reviewing returned toys. We put a hold on donations to enable our volunteers to focus on cataloging new toys and replace damaged toys.

We had a number of successful grant applications which enabled us to purchase new Active, Construction, Science and Inclusive culturally diverse toys. We enhanced the collection for 4 to 6 year age groups to extend the lifetime of our members. As a result we have 5 & 6 year old primary school members still actively enjoying our collection.



Party Packs.

The Baby party pack was refreshed with new modular foam pieces - perfect for safe play. A new Sports party pack consisting of soccer, football and tennis equipment was introduced. While the Games party pack was also refreshed with a multitude of games such as the 3 legged race, tunnel ball, egg & spoon race, tug of war, jumping sacks and dodgeball.



Marketing & Promotions.

Due to the extended periods of lockdown, spreading the importance of play was more important than ever. We continued to post this message, lockdown play inspiration ideas and new toy arrivals through our social channels.


Our Instagram channel is up by 20% year on year with 819 followers and our Facebook channel is up by 32% with 575 followers.



Our website was fundamental in messaging our new click & collect service and protocols to members, and was updated with all our latest news and toy arrivals throughout the year.


New gift vouchers were created for Annual memberships and $ value amounts.


Events.

Early in the year we set up our best booth ever at the Caulfield Party in the Park event, showcasing our new branding collateral - we were hard to miss!


Grants & Fundraising.

We had our most successful year to date for grant applications and were successful with 7.

These were:

  • Glen Eira COVID-19 Community Action Grant - COVID-19 protocol expenses

  • Glen Eira COVID-19 Community Action Grant - Income Loss - Ongoing operational costs + new construction & active play toys

  • Glen Eira Community Services Grant - Inclusive & culturally diverse toys

  • VicHealth Grant - New active toys

  • Australia Post Grant - Advertising & promotion activities

  • Forest Hill Grant - Story Sacks toys

  • Government Cash flow booster

  • Donation - Rotary Club Bentleigh Moorabbin Central - New science toys

A successful bunnings BBQ was also organised in February - pre COVID!


Glen Eira Community Awards.

We were so excited to be recognised among Glen Eira’s wonderful community groups, being nominated for 2020 Community Group of the Year. The award acknowledged the hard work by our formidable committee of mothers in keeping the toy library strong, and outlined the challenges we had faced as a not-for-profit organisation.


I was also fortunate enough to receive a nomination for Citizen of the Year. An application made by the committee which outlined all the toy library milestones and achievements I've been a part of in the past 5 years. Thank you ladies!



Acknowledgements.

I sincerely thank our members for their support over the challenging year that 2020 was. In particular a humongous thank you to our committee members and volunteers who have donated a substantial amount of their time.

Claire (green), our Secretary who continues to be passionately involved with all aspects of the Toy library and also dedicated multiple hours to set up our 'click & collect' service.


Gemma (pink), our Social media co-ordinator & Grants Officer. Who worked tirelessly behind the scenes applying for grant applications and posting inspiring play ideas and content through our social media channels during the lockdown periods.

Eleanor (blue), our Co-ordinator. For always keeping a smile on her face whilst operating our ‘click & collect’ service. She tirelessly worked through the lockdown periods, and has also done a brilliant job during our open sessions, and is constantly helping to enhance and improve our service.


Elena (pink), our Toy catalogue co-ordinator who continued for the 3rd year running to attend as many Wednesday nights as possible to catalogue new toys throughout the year.

Michelle (purple), our Duty roster co-ordinator who helped ensure our duty roster was full for the open sessions.


Lucy (green), our Treasurer who not only managed our funds for the year but also spent hours applying for and securing much-needed government funding and JobKeeper payments.

Pia (yellow), our Communications officer - or should I say our saviour! Pia was fundamental in ensuring that we were able to run our ‘click & collect’ sessions by liaising with the DHHS and communicating our importance to remain open during lockdown periods to the council. She also effortlessly helps with grant applications.


Sophie (blue), our Vice president who took on the challenging role of liaising with members in regards to our 'click & collect' protocols. She also reviewed our missing and broken toys - which was in abundance. She passionately set up our blue booth at the Party in the Park event - we were hard to miss!

Alyssa (yellow), our Events co-ordinator, despite there being no events she still actively helped by attending open sessions and applying for grant applications.


Bob (purple), our Toy repairs support and longest standing committee member of 19 years! He still pops in often; repairing broken toys and helps to maintain our building.

Pey, our BBQ co-ordinator who co-ordinated and ran our February Bunnings BBQ.


Daniel, our Toy repairs support who helped repair numerous broken toys.



So what's in store for 2021?

We are hoping to resume to some kind of COVID normality in 2021, where we can continue to support the families of Glen Eira to engage and learn with their children through the wonder of play. It’s already shaping up to be a busy year with a number of projects already in full flight!


Our focus will be

  • Constructing a new toy section

  • Consolidating our toy range

  • Training and sourcing non member volunteers

  • Continuing to market the toy library through PR

  • Grant applications and fundraising

I’m grateful that we have new committee members and volunteers joining us in 2021 and I encourage and warmly welcome more community members to share their existing skills or learn a new set of skills to enable the continuation of the Toy Library service; whether it be embracing a role on the committee or undertaking individual tasks to experience how rewarding and enjoyable a committee role can be.


Leonie Cavagna President, Carnegie Toy Library


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