How to do a Switch Adapted Toy Drive

Hosting an Adaptive Toy Drive

A comprehensive guide to hosting your own Adaptive Toy Drive

Step 1: Connect with your community

Know who your donors and creators are. Maybe you have pulled together a team with organizing and advertising skills, so you’re confident in your ability to pull off a toy drive but you’re missing the technical skills for building switches. Or vice versa! Brainstorm other people or organizations to connect with to fill in the resources you are missing.  

Equally important, know who your toy recipients are. Who are the people in your local community who could most benefit from this event? Adapted toys are helpful for any child who does not have the motor control to interact with toys off-the-shelf. This could be due to a genetic or acquired disability. Are there support groups, therapy centers, adaptive recreation programs, schools, or hospitals in your area that focus on this population? Reach out to some of them to informally gauge interest.

Tom instructing students on how to make switches

Step 2: Make a Supply List

Unless you are buying all the materials from your own budget, it might be helpful to make an Amazon wishlist. Directions on making a list can be found in Amazon’s customer service center. Make sure that your list is public and that you select specific quantities for each item. You will then be able to share the link to your list with donors, and anything they purchase will be mailed directly to you. 

Toys 

The most expensive part of this project will be purchasing compatible toys. There are many types of toys that you will not be able to use, so if you are soliciting donations then it is important to give donors direct purchase links. 

To use battery interrupters, you need toys that operate only by on/off modes. Examples: 

If you need to do anything else to make the toy move/sing/light up after turning it to the “on” position, then that toy will NOT work with a battery interrupter. That means no plushies with buttons on their paw and no remote-controlled cars. Those types of toys require internal modifications to be switch-adapted, and that is outside the scope of this event. 

Voltage is another potential barrier. This will vary depending on the internal hardware you source for inside your 3D-printed switches. We find that our switches work best with toys that take AAA or AA batteries, not C or D. 

When in doubt, buy the toy to try it out! 

Alanna modifying toys

Adaptation Supplies 

Depending on the type of switch that you are making, you will need different supplies. Makers Making Change has provided detailed building instructions, STL files, as well as a shopping list for all things needed to build these switches. Here are 2 types of switches that we have used successfully:

When purchasing materials, ensure that you purchase the wire with a male and female end. The male end will be used for the switch. The female end will be used to make the battery interrupter! Here is a detailed video on how to make a battery interrupter.

Miscellaneous 

You will need marketing materials and packaging supplies, such as tape and gift bags. If your toys do not come with batteries pre-installed, add those to your list as well. 

Step 3: Follow a Timeline

Plan backward from when you would like to distribute the toys. If the holiday season starts with Hanukkah on December 18 you may want to offer drop-in hours for toy pickups the preceding week. Start at the bottom of this list and add deadlines: 

  • Logistics: identify planning team, secure event space, make supply lists 
  • Begin marketing
  • Collect all donations 
  • Build switches (if applicable) 
  • Package and/or adapt toys 
  • Distribute toys 
Caitlin and Alanna building switches

Step 4: Have Fun!

Whether you’re in this project for the engineering experience or the joy of matching toys to recipients, don’t forget to celebrate what you have accomplished! 

Attachments

Here is a helpful list of resources to get you started:

Tom and Maddy making a switch

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