TOYS THAT TEACH
Phil Thomas’s “Toys That Teach” have been lovingly crafted, made from long-lasting, natural exotic hardwoods and painted with rich, old-fashioned (and chew-safe) milk paint. Thomas first conceived of the educational toys for his grandchildren, ages five and one, and designed two simple sets: a colors-and-shapes matching toy, and a fraction toy consisting of six-inch circles of wood, with each layer cut into different fractions. His grandchildren loved them, and Phil enjoyed making them so much that he made nine more to sell at his neighborhood association fall market. But as a woodworking hobbyist and retiree, Phil didn’t want to take any money for his creations—so he donated the proceeds to Sleep Tight Kids.
“It turned out children enjoyed the toys, I enjoyed it, and we helped Sleep Tight Kids. I could see a good result,” he says. (Phil’s toys are available for limited purchase; contact Sleep Tight Kids if you’re interested.)
When Cat Kessler had her baby shower, rather than request gifts, she and her husband decided to ask their friends and family bring books for Sleep Tight Kids. “I had a complicated pregnancy,” she says, “and through that time, we were taken care of by a lot of people in our lives—by doctors, by our church, by our friends and family, and even by strangers. With the shower we wanted to say thank you, and pay it forward for all care we got.”
Four-year-old Afton May, with the help of her parents, collected items for Sleep Tight Kids for her own birthday party—instilling the charitable impulse at a young age. (Kids are natural givers, and introducing them to charitable giving around age three or four can expand their lifelong capacity for empathy.)
There are so many ways to help Sleep Tight Kids—by harnessing your time and talents, by sharing what has been given to you, or by including the Sleep Tight Kids mission in the time you spend with your friends and families. And giving isn’t limited, of course, to artistic talent or celebrations. As we move into the holiday season, there are more opportunities than ever to give.
Now through December 15, three area State Employee Credit Union (SECU) branches are accepting newly purchased nighttime comfort items (pajamas, blankets, stuffed animals, nightlights, etc.) at the following locations:
111 Smokey Park Hwy
Asheville NC 28806
828-665-4801 (contact Haley Crisp)
231 Long Shoals Rd
Arden NC 28704
828-687-4070 (contact Victor Gonzalez)
2631 Hendersonville Rd
Arden NC 28704
828-654-9541 (contact Flave Hart)
Coming up in March, Sleep Tight Kids has been named the official charity for the Asheville Wing War at the Crowne Plaza Expo Center. More than 700 tickets are sold to this event (they sell out every year), and sponsorship opportunities are available now, ranging from $250 “Extra Saucy” sponsors to $1000 “Extra Spicy” and more. A portion of each sponsorship donation goes to Sleep Tight Kids.
Giving doesn’t have to be arduous or require careful planning. It can be folded into something you already love doing—such as Phil’s woodworking. It can be a quick dip of your credit card for just a small amount. Or it can be part of a social event, whether the attendees number in the hundreds, or are just a small circle of kin.