Greetings, Learning Express Readers!
Last week on the blog we gave you a behind the scenes look at the annual Learning Express Toys convention. What we didn’t have a chance to tell you about was the incredible donation our vendors made to the Monroe Carroll Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. It was pretty spectacular!
As you’ll recall from last week, one of the highlights of the convention is the vendor expo. Over 120 toy vendors fly in from around the country—and each vendor sets up a booth on our expo floor. If you took a walk around the show floor in Nashville this year you’d see household names like ALEX and Melissa & Doug, as well as some newcomers like Tegu and Lollaland. Store owners could be found spinning on Spooner Boards, trying their hand at Speed Stacking, and even learning to tight rope walk on Slack Lines.
Come 3pm on the last day of the vendor expo, it’s time for vendors to pack up their toys and head home. Each year, many of our vendors generously donate their toys to a local group or nonprofit rather than ship the product back home. In the months before the convention the Home Office works with local store owners to decide who should benefit from the generous donation from vendors. This year, Connie Edmonds from our Franklin, TN store, suggested we partner with the Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
Volunteers from the hospital joined us for the pack up—and it was quite a sight to see! Vendors donated over 3000 toys, and before getting loaded into the truck they were organized by the area of the hospital they would benefit most. Some were put aside as birthday gifts for sick children, some were reserved for the toy lending library, some were assigned to the age specific play areas, and others were chosen for the complimentary “holiday shop” where parents can pick out age appropriate toys for sick children and siblings. If you’d like to see a few of the toys that were donated, check out Connie from Franklin chatting with The Tennessean!
A few of us from the Home Office had the opportunity to visit the Monroe Carroll Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt the day after this vendor donation was made. We met with Stephanie Van Dyke (their Director of Volunteer Services) who gave us a tour around the hospital. We got to hear about the creative ways the toys will be put to use to make medical treatment less scary and overwhelming for kids, as well as see the parts of the hospital that the toys will directly benefit–like the toy lending library and play rooms.
The hospital relies on toy donations and couldn’t have been more delighted by the generous gifts from our vendors—and we were told that it was it’s the biggest toy donation the hospital has ever received! We’d like to say a big thank you to all the vendors who made this wonderful gift possible.
Talk to you again soon!