Former Colombian refugee Adrian Torres Hurtado, 6, checks out of the Nelson Community Toy Library on Saturday with his first lot of toys. Photo: Kate Russell.

Toys for refugees


It felt like Christmas morning at the Nelson Community Toy Library on Saturday.

Five recently-settled refugee families were gifted a free six-month membership worth $65 for the toy library – something that they wouldn’t normally be able to afford.

But now they will be able to borrow up to four toys for three weeks at a time – including bikes, scooters, educational games and dress-ups.

Toy library committee member Lauren Penney says they worked in conjunction with Red Cross to make it happen, with funding from The Rata Foundation.

Then they held an open day to introduce the families to the library and the way it works.

“We did it because we want recently-settled refugees to be able to access our wonderful toy library without having to worry about cost,” she says. “We also want to enable children in our community to learn and develop via play and to enable these families to settle confidently into our community, meet more families and become more involved within our community.”

Megan Riddell, a volunteer coordinator for the Red Cross Pathways to Settlement programme, says the families are “thrilled” with the opportunity.

“As an ex toy library president it has always been something I’ve wanted to do. Then Lauren ran the idea past me and I was like ‘yes, let’s do it’.

“So, the toy library got the funding and we made it happen.”

Megan says once families understand how it works, they’ll start using it more and more.

“It shows them that they don’t have to spend money on toys, but instead access them for a very low cost. It’s great.”

There are still another two memberships to gift to Red Cross refugee families.

If this is you, or someone you know, contact the toy library at [email protected] or via Facebook.