Helping to build a fun recess time

Richardson Elementary School PTO collecting Legos for K-5 students

Phil Keren
Kent Weeklies
Alivia Hull, a first-grade student at Preston Elementary School, works with Legos at her desk. Alivia was on a mask break while she worked with her Legos. The Richardson Elementary School PTO is collecting new and used Legos and Duplos to provide to all six elementary buildings.

CUYAHOGA FALLS — The colorful toy building blocks that have been enjoyed by generations of children are still a hit today and a parent-teacher group is working to ensure every elementary school student attending in-person classes in the city has a supply.

The Richardson Elementary School Parent and Teacher Organization is collecting new and used Legos and Duplos for K-5 students who are going to in-person classes in the school district. The collection effort for "Operation Legos of Love" continues through March 8.

Alecio Coco, president of the Richardson PTO, said her group was looking for ways to help out inside the elementary building during the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools often have indoor recess sessions during the winter and this year, due to COVID-19, students must remain at their desks and cannot share materials with one another during the free time.

Everett Jodon, a first-grade student at Preston Elementary School, works with his Legos at his desk. Everett was on a mask break while he was working with his Legos. The Richardson Elementary PTO is leading a drive to collect new and use Legos and Duplos to donate to all six K-5 buildings.

Coco said the Richardson PTO decided to purchase a "plethora of different items" for students to play with. Small bags of Legos were among the offerings, and Coco said teachers said the interconnecting toy building blocks were a "hit" with the children.

The positive feedback prompted Coco to post a notice on Facebook seeking donations of used Legos for Richardson students. She said "within 48 hours" people were offering to buy new sets of Legos and making arrangements to have them picked up or dropped off.

"Within a week, there were enough Legos for every single student [attending in-person classes] at Richardson," said Coco.

The PTO members sanitized and bagged the Legos, and delivered them to Richardson.

Trinity Spear, a first-grader at Preston Elementary School, focuses on her Lego creation at her desk. Trinity was on a mask break while she worked with her Legos. The Richardson Elementary School PTO has organized "Operation Legos of Love," an effort to collect Legos and Duplos for the district's elementary students.

Following the collection effort at Richardson, Coco said she was contacted by the Preston Elementary School principal about doing the same project for their building. At that point, Coco said the Richardson PTO membership decided, "Let's do this for everybody," and "Operation Legos of Love" was born.

The goal is to collect enough Legos for students taking in-person classes at all six elementary buildings by March 8, according to Coco. That amounts to anywhere from 1,800 to 2,000 "half-filled, quart-sized bags" of Legos, she said.

How to donate

New and used Legos and Duplos can be dropped off in bins set up outside Richardson (2226 23rd St.), as well as DeWitt (425 Falls Ave.), Lincoln (3131 W. Bailey Road), Preston (800 Tallmadge Road) and Silver Lake (2970 Overlook Road) elementary schools. Donations can also be taken to: Riverfront YMCA, (544 Broad Blvd.); Grandview United Methodist Church (2315 Phelps Ave.); Krieger's Health Foods Market (615 Graham Road); the Cuyahoga Falls Elks Lodge 1923 (2555 State Road); and Cafe O'Play (911 Graham Road, #27, Stow).

There is not a bin set up at Price Elementary School because that building's PTO purchased enough Legos to provide a bag of the colorful plastic building blocks for each in-person Price student. In addition to Richardson and Price, all in-person students at Preston now have bags of Legos, according to Coco. 

Colton Bracey, a first grader at Preston Elementary School, shows off his Lego project. Colton was on a mask break while he worked with his Legos. The Richardson Elementary School PTO is collecting new and used Legos and Duplos that will be donated to all six elementary buildings in the district.

Community members can also contribute to the cause without leaving their homes. Donors can order from an Amazon Wishlist at https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/genericItemsPage/HMH9YNQY73HW?fbclid=IwAR1CmtV-ChdnF5A-325Y4leqzzQE1vOmbbqSr_pbfe3hThvjSwJO7Wp6vLQ&ref_=wl_share and Legos will be sent directly to Richardson and PTO members will pick them up. Contributors can visit https://www.signupgenius.com/go/805084dafaf2ea4f49-operation to make a monetary donation that will be used to buy Legos for students. The donations are tax deductible.

This information about donation opportunities can be found on the Richardson Elementary PTO Facebook page.

Daviannah Dunlap, a first grade student at Preston Elementary School, smiles as she prepares to work with her Lego set. Daviannah was on a mask break while she worked with her Legos. The Richardson Elementary School PTO recently launched "Operation Legos of Love," an effort to accept donations of new and used Legos and Duplos for elementary school students.

Lego drive a display of community support

This charitable effort has, Coco said, "started a ripple effect of amazing things in the community."

Kiwanis of Cuyahoga Falls, for example, purchased and donated $750 worth of Legos.

Coco said she believes the community's support of the project shows students and their families that while "many things have changed for them this year…the community support has not."

Coco offered a "big thank you" to residents for their outpouring of support.

"There are always the helpers that step up," said Coco.

In addition to being an item that can be enjoyed by children during indoor recess, Coco noted teachers can also incorporate Lego usage into the lessons they teach.

"Legos are timeless and can be used for imagination, creativity and learning in the buildings," she said.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at pkeren@thebeaconjournal.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.