After raising two boys, Susan Dobroski knows that sharing toys is the key to sibling harmony. But on a larger scale, she also believes that toy sharing supports community sustainability. Enter the Toybrary of Asheville, a mobile toy exchange she launched in August based on her family’s experience with the idea in Rochester, N.Y.
“When I moved here in 2014, I was stunned to find that no one in Asheville had even heard of toy libraries,” Dobroski recalls. That realization, combined with a desire to put her environmental education degree and professional therapeutic recreation experience to new use, eventually led her to make a late-night web search for “mobile toy unit” — yielding a customized van stocked with high-quality early-childhood toys being sold by a nonprofit in Joplin, Miss.
Dobroski had the toy-mobile wrapped in bright turquoise with branding created by one of her sons, a move that succeeded in catching Asheville’s eye. On her first test run to a Whole Foods parking lot, she says, “so many people wanted to see inside I was there for an hour.”
But Dobroski welcomes the curiosity. “The average family spends well over $1,000 a year on toys,” she points out. “A Toybrary lets you check out three toys at a time for a couple of weeks — it saves money and keeps toys out of the landfill.”
Editor’s note: As part of our monthlong celebration of this region’s commitment to sustainable ways of living and working in community, Xpress is highlighting some of those who are making a difference by taking action on a variety of creative and inspiring initiatives.