BERLIN — “Bring in your old, go out with the new,” is one of the mantras of the monthly Kids Trade and Play community program to swap, recycle and reuse often-costly children’s clothing, shoes and toys.
Held on the second Saturday of the month at the Capital City Grange, just across the Montpelier city line at 6612 Route 12, the program has become a big hit with area parents to outfit growing kids in new sizes and provide a vibrant community social gathering for families and friends.
Erin Barry said she based Kids Trade and Play on a similar program that began eight years ago in Santa Cruz, California.
“Then I moved here four and a half years ago and I said I needed to start it here,” Barry said as she manned the entrance and accepted the $3 entry fee to cover expenses.
Once inside, everything is free for the taking, and scores of mostly women swarmed over dozens of tote bins with different sizes of clothing. There were also shoes and toys and a range of a mother’s needs, such as breast pumps and maternity wear, as well as women’s clothing available.
Barry said she first approached the Grange with the idea, and praised its officials for the support she received.
“They gave me some storage space in the back which was key so I don’t have to carry the stuff home every month,” Barry said.
Barry said she put the word out she wanted donations of children’s and maternal items.
I also started a Facebook page and I posted on Front Porch Forum,” Barry said. “So, I collected a bunch of things and asked some friends to help me out.”
Barry said she bought the tote bins, which are labeled with the different sizes from infant up to junior 10-12.
“The buckets are always being refilled, so people can look through things again and again,” Barry said.
“We started in March of 2015 and it’s been growing every month since and there are still people coming who have never been before,” Barry said. “Now we have somewhere between 80 to 100 adults coming and around 50 children who come every month.”
Barry also provides scones and coffee and tea she makes at home. “I really want it to be a social event so people do stay the whole two hours,” she said.
A big hit for the kids — and their parents who are rummaging for finds — is a play area with books and toys that kids can take home.
A back table has small equipment with car seats, play mats, and boppies or slings that parents can use to breastfeed or carry their child.
“It’s great recycling for the earth,” Barry said. “There are so many materials that a baby seems to need and what do you do with it when you don’t need it anymore in your house? So, it’s a resource for our community to share and recycle.”
Agency of Agriculture official Alex Depillis, of Montpelier, was visiting with his son, Gabriel Nathaniel, aged 2, who was trying out all the toys in the children’s play section.
It’s play for him, coffee and scones for me, and clothes, both give and get,” DePillis said. “So, it’s all a great mix, and I can see some of my friends and we can sit and talk.”
Judy Buchanan, of East Montpelier, was visiting with her daughter, Elena, aged 3, who was ensconced in a tent fort in the children’s play area.
“I like that it’s a place that you can get rid of things,” Buchanan said. “So, you bring things and you can get things and you’re not buying new stuff; it’s all used stuff being recycled.
“The kids are really only in the stuff for a very short time, so to spend a lot of money to get a lot of new clothing is expensive,” Buchanan added.
Buchanan also liked the social interactions between adults and between children.
“It’s fun,” Buchanan said. “Elena saw a friend from her pre-school in East Montpelier which was fun for her. It’s a nice time to get with the community and interact with others.”
Hannah Hansard, of Montpelier, was visiting with her son, Atticus, 3, who was fascinated with a kid’s size ride-on race car that he could take home but eventually settled on a small karaoke mic and pre-recorded music toy.
“When Atticus was born three years ago, he was much larger than expected and he grew very quickly, and I had no clothes for him,” Hansard said. “Erin had just started Trade and Play, and I came and I clothed my child for the first few months of his life.
“I volunteered for a while, and I enjoyed all the people who come out — I’ve tried to build my tribe here,” Hansard added. “I love coming out here to get not only his current size but the next size up, which makes me feel more secure about the future.”
To learn more about Kids Trade and Play, email Erin Barry at firstname.lastname@example.org.