Toy Swap encourages families to recycle

It’s one of the most successful events the Mercer Island Preschool Association’s annual lineup and has been for 30-plus years. Every November, families from across Puget Sound come to the Island to scour over donated items at the MIPA Toy Swap.

This year, the event will be held on Saturday, Nov. 13, at Islander Middle School, and is already taking donations, and consignments.

MIPA co-president Jennifer Carmichael said they really are encouraging people to recycle toys, especially ones that your family has outgrown. As an added incentive this year, items can be consigned, with 65 percent of the consigned items profits going to the person and 35 percent going to the MIPA to help fund projects.

“Proceeds go to scholarships through the Mercer Island Youth and Family Services,” said Carmichael. “It’s nice for people to have a local option.”

The longer that the organization has been around and the bigger the swap gets, the wider the array of items has become.

“It’s a huge event, and it’s gotten bigger, particularly as we’ve gotten more donations for bigger things. We have a lot of bikes and furniture now,” said Carmichael. Essentially, anything that a child under the age of 12 would use can be dropped off. The sale, pulled off by an all-volunteer team, starts collecting items at the end of September, running through the night before the sale.

Donation items can be dropped off for the next two Sundays (Oct. 17 and 24) at the Storage Court on the South end of the Island from 4 to 5 p.m. Starting in November, the team will begin to accept donation and consignment items. Consignment and donation items can be given to the MIPA at the Storage Court on: Nov. 2 and Nov. 4, from 6 to 8 p.m.; Nov. 7, from 5 to 7 p.m.; Nov. 9 and Nov. 11, from 6 to 8 p.m.

The night before the sale, on Nov. 12, items can be dropped off at Islander Middle School from 5 to 8 p.m. as crews prepare for the next day. The sale itself runs from 9 to 11 a.m. with a lunch break from 11 a.m. to noon. The sale continues with prices at half off from 12 to 1 p.m.

Of course, Carmichael said, there are often questions about bigger items — things that can simply be dropped off at the storage unit, which the Storage Court donates to the MIPA every year. Larger items can be arranged to be picked up by contacting Debbie Bertlin at

The MIPA, which has been on the Island since 1937, provides funds and help to local preschools. Carmichael said one of their biggest initiatives is helping schools find ways to be green.

The swap is a big reason why the group is able to help in the ways that it does. It takes about 50 to 60 volunteers, besides the 20 members of the MIPA board, Carmichael said, to make it happen.

“The fact that we do it with all volunteers is amazing,” she said. “We only pay for the janitorial staff (at IMS).” Anything that is left over after the sale goes to local charities in need of toys and other child-related items.

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