Children are being invited to a birthday party for a toy library that has been bringing joy for 30 years.
And just like when it started in 1988, the Bendigo Toy Library is still run by parent volunteers.
Current president Esther Kerr got involved after her husband brought their children along for an event.
“He was quite impressed with how everything ran,” she said.
Today, the priority is still making sure children are having fun and that parents have a cost-effective way to provide good quality toys.
“With kids, they go through toys in a minute. They might not be that interested in what you buy them. So the beauty of the toy library is that you can come and borrow something, see if they enjoy it and go from there. You are not wasting your money,” Ms Kerr said.
Marilyn Wallis was the Shire of Strathfieldsaye’s president in 1988 and was involved in meetings that kick-started the toy library. She still has some of the labels used for wine bottling, which parents used in fundraising efforts.
She recalls the need for a toy library it in the shire at the time, and that a group of community members came together to open a small operation at what was then the McDonald House School for Deaf Children.
“It was a group of young mums who got together. They had some discussions with the Toy Library Association of Victoria and they wanted to commence something in Bendigo,” Mrs Wallis said.
In recent times she had become one of the many people who had donated toys to the library.
The most popular toy in the collection right now is a large ride-on tractor, even if many parents struggle to fit it in their cars.
“As soon as it comes back into the toy library it is gone again. It lasts for 10 minutes and whoever is here says ‘oh, I’ll have that’ and it is gone again,” Ms Kerr said.
“A lot of the boys who come in and see this big tractor. They are smitten by it.”
This year the toy library had expanded, taking on another operation in Long Gully.
“So we now have two campuses,” Ms Kerr said.
There are currently 170 member families using the library’s collection.
“We are going from strength to strength and keeping that momentum going so the toy library can be around for another 30 years,” Ms Kerr said.
The 30th birthday party will take place at the Spring Gully site on Saturday from 9.30am until noon.
It will be free for all members and the general public with pre-school aged children. As well as a time to play with toys, there will be children’s entertainment, door prizes gift bags, party cake, Amazing Mr Mike, bubbles, face painting and a BBQ.
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