Toys. Kids just can’t get enough of them. The constant nagging for the latest and greatest can be difficult to resist. But soon enough the excitement fades, and even the favourites are thrown into the overflowing toy box, never to be played with again.
That’s where the Port Macquarie Toy Library comes to the rescue. Kids get an endless variety of new toys to play with, and parents get to save their cash and their sanity. There are outdoor toys, ride-ons, role play, puzzles and musical instruments for hire – perfect to keep kids aged 0 – 5 entertained.
Alexa Harvey is the Coordinator of the Port Macquarie Toy Library. She has been a member for the last three years and took on the voluntary leadership role in May. She loves every bit of what she does.
Alexa was a high school science teacher and university lecturer and holds a Bachelor of Applied Science from the University of Sydney, a Bachelor of Science and a Graduate Diploma of Education from the University of New England.
She has found that her teaching skills and special needs education knowledge have helped in her role at the Toy Library. “We have plenty of educational toys, and a number of occupational therapists around town refer clients to us for therapy toys.”
Being a mother to three young children also helps. She knows which toys to recommend for different ages, and her kids love to tag along each weekend to try out all the new toys.
Alexa grew up in Port Macquarie and spent most her life here, other than a few years in Sydney and teaching overseas. She loves the wonderful community spirit in Port. “I have met so many lovely people through the different organisations I have been involved in. Everyone is so supportive and willing to lend a hand when it’s needed.”
At 8:30am on Saturdays, Alexa heads to the Port Macquarie Neighbourhood Centre on the corner of Muston and Dodds Streets with her children to set up for a busy morning. The Toy Library is open between 9:30am and 11am every Saturday.
For Alexa, the best part of her day is “the delight on the kids’ faces as they search through our toys and find that something special to take home”. Her role involves managing the volunteers, liaising with the media, and administrative roles such as banking, rostering, purchasing, repairs and emails.
The hardest part of the job is finding enough volunteers to fill the rosters. The library is a volunteer-run not-for-profit community service and was set up in 1996. “Most of our volunteers are mums and dads with young families and busy lives. The more volunteers we have, the better the service is for everyone.”
Volunteers are asked to give up just two hours of their time for six Saturdays a year. Volunteers also get the added benefit of half price membership and free toy hire on the day they volunteer. Yearly membership is $25, and fortnightly hire is 55c – $5.50 per toy.
If you are keen to become a member or volunteer, head to www.facebook.com/PortMacquarieToyLibrary or phone 0488 198 004.
Story by Cass Milligan.
6:30am Kids wake me up, and it’s breakfast, get dressed and pack bags for the day.
8:30am Arrive at the Neighbourhood Centre, where the kids help me by setting up the toys.
9:30am Our volunteers arrive, and we are open for business. A constant stream of excited children come in ready to play and discover new toys to take home.
11:00am All over for another week. The kids and I take their great grandmother to morning tea.
12:30pm Home for lunch and a rest for the kids.
1:00pm Hubby takes over with the kids, and I head back to the Toy Library to complete paperwork and other tasks.
5:00pm Home for the dinner, bath, bed routine.
8:00pm Finish chores, then time to study or relax with a book.