Tiny toys make big impact for Searcy Children’s Home

By Emily Van Zandt Originally Published November 15, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated November 14, 2012 at 9:13 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Curt Youngblood

Taryn Sheets, executive director of the Searcy Children’s Home, stands by the home’s toy supply. Stanley Pharmacy in Searcy is hosting a toy drive for the children’s home, which gives the toys to foster children.

— Things have been a bit quieter at the Searcy Children’s Home lately.

Though the organization has provided residential care in its group home since 1974, this fall, the home has made a transition. Now, every child who comes to the Searcy Children’s Home is placed in a foster home rather than staying at the main house.

“There is a trend now across the country of really looking at residential care, and the first choice is always for a child to be placed in an individual home,” Executive Director Taryn Sheets said.

The home sees about 200 to 300 referrals every year from the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

“They’ll contact us when they have removed children to see if we have a place for them,” Sheets said.

Now the former group home at 208 E. Moore serves as an office, and plans are on the horizon to create a child-development center for foster families to use. For now, the group is focused on foster care and adoption and making sure that children who come through the organization are as comfortable as possible.

With about 17 infants and toddlers currently in the home’s foster-care program, sometimes that comfort comes in the form of a new toy. With toy drives starting up for the holiday season, Sheets said the home is eager to fill its supply closet with donations that will be used throughout the year and will help other organizations.

“We get a lot during the holidays, and if the toys don’t fit with the children that we serve, we pass them along to DHS or other nonprofits, such as Jacob’s Place (jacobsplace.org),” Sheets said.

The home typically divides the toys among the individual children as holiday gifts and puts back extras for future birthdays or children who come to the home with no toys of their own.

With the Searcy Children’s Home’s oldest child currently only 4, the group is looking for toy donations for infants and toddlers. Sturdy, educational toys such as small puzzles, blocks and soft, washable toys are all good choices, Sheets said.

Residents in the Searcy community can bring toy donations for the home to Stanley Pharmacy, 2007 W. Beebe-Capps Expressway, as part of the second annual Great Toy Drop. The drive, which sponsored a family home in Judsonia last year, gathered enough toys last season to fill six or seven refrigerator boxes, pharmacist and owner Scott Stanley said. The drive officially kicked off Nov. 1. It may seem early, but there’s a reason for the pre-Thanksgiving start date.

“A lot of our customers come in on the first of the month to get their medications,” Stanley said. “We get the info out to the patients then, and they can shop and bring a toy back when they return in December.”

Bins will be set up for donations at the pharmacy, and toys will be accepted through the Friday before Christmas.

Staff writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at (501) 399-3688 or evanzandt@arkansasonline.com.

Associate Features Editor Emily Van Zandt can be reached at .

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