Turnaround Toys sees fury of donations, with no place to put them
In the last three months, Turnaround Toys has seen a dramatic increase in donations, collecting 10,000 items. The problem is the Waxhaw based nonprofit doesn’t have anywhere to store the gifts.
“(Our) most urgent need is a warehouse,” Turnaround Toys founder Lynn Fitzgerald said. “We have collected over 10,000 toys in the past three months and are outgrowing every space option we have.”
Fitzgerald runs the operation out of her home, collecting toys and then holding giveaways where needy families in Mecklenburg and Union counties, as well as in South Carolina, can come and pick up items.
She collects and stores the toys in her garage, washing and gift wrapping each one before sending it out to a family in the area.
A person in the area offered to lease office space and a warehouse to the nonprofit, but Fitzgerald said the group couldn’t afford it.
“Due to financial limitations, we at this point are not able to lease the space,” Fitzgerald said.
The space problem comes at a time when Fitzgerald is looking to dramatically increase the scope of her group. In addition to local events, Turnaround Toys will be going global, starting later this year.
“Our goal this summer is to help (families) in Puerto Rico, (the) Bahamas and Haiti,” Fitzgerald said. “However we will continue our ministry to local disadvantaged families and organizations. In fact, (we are) sponsoring an event for the Benton Heights community in Monroe for this Valentine’s Day.”
A member of the Turnaround Toys board operates a business in Puerto Rico and saw a need among the families there. Eventually, Fitzgerald hopes to establish an international Turnaround Toys operation based out of Puerto Rico, one that holds events at least quarterly. The Bahama project came about thanks to a woman Fitzgerald met, a taxi-cab driver who started talking about the needs children in the island have.
“Most people don’t realize the devastation that has continued to occur due to the hurricane that hit the Bahamas in 2004,” Fitzgerald said. “There’s (a lot) of poverty there. As for Haiti, Fitzgerald said her husband Nestor has gone to the island nation on several missions trips, which helped both he and the rest of the family develop a love for the Haitian people. Turnaround Toys will be using his contacts on the island to hold an event this summer.
At home in Union County, Turnaround Toys will hold its next event Feb. 17 from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Benton Heights Elementary School library. Fitzgerald estimates that 107 children will be in attendance.
“We are doing a stuffed animal and book giveaway with a small reception including juice, pizza, cake and lots of candy,” Fitzgerald said, adding that the group was partnering with Southbrook Church for the event.
In order to expand the ministry, Fitzgerald has priced several warehouses, hoping to get something in place so the toys can be relocated from her overflowing garage. To buy or lease a warehouse in the area, the lowest price quote she received was $100,000. That would include $600 to $800 paid monthly, plus utilities and other expenses.
To help fund a possible warehouse and also the group’s global plans, Fitzgerald has launched a donation drive. To get involved with Turnaround Toys or to offer donations, people can call 704-380-0773. Fitzgerald has also set up a website, www.lfazzolari.charlottewebspace.com.