Play Your Part Boston: A Perspective from Schylling’s Stephen Medina

December 4, 2018 | The Toy Foundation’s (TTF) “Play Your Part” events are a great way for members of the toy community to share the gift of play with underserved kids in their local area. Especially during the holiday season, children who attend these events enjoy a day of play by engaging in toy industry-sponsored games and activities and receive brand-new playthings to take home generously donated by the industry. The willingness of toy professionals to take time out of their busy workdays to participate is a major reason why the events are so successful.

The Play Your Part series will return to the Boston area on December 13 for its second annual event.  Toy News Tuesday editors sat down with Stephen Medina, Schylling’s sales manager and a Play Your Part volunteer, to get his perspective on why the event is so rewarding.

Why do you think it is important to participate in an event like PYP Boston? 
We are fortunate to work in an industry where the end product is designed to bring joy to children. The Play Your Part event is a great reminder to manufacturers that we are not just dealing with item numbers inside corrugated boxes that help us reach our sales budgets.

What does Schylling have planned for the kids this year?
Last year, we donated hundreds of toys for the gift bags and for general giveaways to the children that attended. We also sponsored an activity table and spent an evening of “play.” Since it was the first year of PYP Boston, we wanted to gauge the interests of the children. This year, in addition to donating toys and games, we will be once again sponsoring an activity station centered on creative play and we have additional volunteers signed up to attend.l reaction you have when you volunteer?

Can you describe to others the emotional reaction you have when you volunteer?
Writing a check is clean and easy, sending free toys is nice, but volunteering your time to play and interact with children for a night is truly giving back to the community. Some children are outgoing and hop right into the fun, but a few sit back cautiously. Seeing our toys help these quiet children open up and eventually feel comfortable enough to interact with others was inspiring. After 20 years in the industry, I’m happy to see traditional toys can still reach today’s children.

Was there a specific moment during last year’s event that stood out to you?  
Soon after the afternoon began, the Schylling play stations were busy and at the end of the night, it was obvious there was serious creative play going on. To some it may have looked like a messy table, but to me it was a sign kids were there having fun. I never would have thought combining Lava Ooze, Chip Away dust, and scented markers would be so popular. In addition, our president Paul Weingard proudly presented the images of Play Your Part Boston 2017 at our annual Las Vegas sales meeting to 100 sales representatives.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s event?
More children are expected this year, so we are bringing additional toys and new Schylling team members who jumped at the chance to volunteer. This experience will help them when presenting our toys to customers during the 2019 trade show season. Our buyers enjoy the first-hand stories.

Why should other toy industry professionals volunteer at our Play Your Part events?
Schylling is known for our great selling toys, but also for being a company that prioritizes customer service and partnership with our toy stores. Our most successful toy stores are involved in their community and PYP Boston gives us a chance to share the wonderful experience of giving back. Children need positive memories in their lives and special events like Play Your Part provide that. We may even help inspire some future toy professionals.

To find out more about how you can participate in Play Your Part Boston, contact Elizabeth Max, senior foundation manager at The Toy Foundation, or register online.