Ikea Soft Toys

Ikea Stoughton recently delivered hundreds of soft toys to the School on Wheels of Massachusetts operation center to be included in our Holiday Learning Boxes. SOWMA delivers over 500 boxes, filled with books, markers, folders and more to children living in shelters and motels in our communities.

The following is a heart-felt submission by Laura Alves, Local Marketing Manager, Ikea Stoughton.

The Stoughton Journal ran an article aiming to recruit mentors for School on Wheels of Massachusetts (SOWMA). Within that article, School on Wheels’ mission, “to educate children impacted by homelessness by providing academic support and on-one-one mentoring so children can reach their full potential” came across and aligned so well with the mission of the Ikea soft toy campaign. After an exchange of emails and phone calls the match between IKEA Stoughton and School on Wheels was solidified. The collected toys will benefit children in our communities without a home of their own as part of the distribution of Holiday Gift Boxes and beyond.

SOWMA as beneficiary

IKEA’s continued commitment to the Soft Toys for Education Campaign is grounded in the belief that educating our children is imperative. With access to a school and quality education, children can find a safe environment to receive support, socialize and learn life skills that help improve their own well-being, as well as their family and community. As part of the campaign, IKEA stores provide an in-store collection bin for customers and co-workers to drop off purchased soft toys which are then donated to a local charitable organization.

Laura Alves, Ikea Local Marketing Manager and Matt Lindner, Ikea Regional Marketing Manager deliver soft toys to School on Wheels of Massachusetts

Holiday Box delivery experience

School on Wheels extended an invitation to help deliver Holiday Learning Boxes and I was able to be part of a visit to the Brockton YMCA Youth Division. The building was bustling with energy and kids engaged in activities and school work with their mentors. The commitment of the kids, mentors, parents and SOWMA staff to achieve academic success and a productive future showed in every room. When the kids opened their Holiday Learning Boxes after completing their sessions it was extremely fulfilling to see a toy that once sat on our store shelves get purchased, generously donated and put into the hands of a deserving child. This fulfillment came with seeing the gratitude and playfulness of the kids and knowing that with this soft toy purchase a local child walked away with something and that a child in another part of the world will walk away with education improvements.


Running from November 10 to January 4, IKEA’s tenth annual Soft Toys for Education Campaign raises money to educate children around the world. Since 2003, the IKEA Soft Toy campaign has donated $74 million to UNICEF and Save the Children and impacted approximately 10 million children in 46 countries. For each purchase of an IKEA Soft Toy, including fairytale-character stuffed animals, finger puppets and books available at affordable prices, $1.34 is donated to the Soft Toys for Education Campaign. Soft toys are truly the gift that keeps on giving – each donation gives the powerful gift of an education to children around the world in need.

Additional comments by SOWMA Founder and Executive Director, Cheryl Opper

We are very grateful to Laura and to Ikea for the opportunity to add these soft toys to our Holiday Learning Boxes. It was great to be with Laura as we experienced the kids’ joy at receiving their toy. One little girl, Stephanie, is a first grade student. She opened up her box and immediately, her eyes became as big as saucers and her mouth dropped open. She whispered to me, “My tutor must have told you what I wanted because this is exactly what I wanted. “ She took her tiny zebra finger puppet and held it tightly.

Another student, Brianna, received her hand-decorated Holiday Box and looked up in wonder. “Who drew this for me? My name is on the box!” Inside there was a wonderful story book about dogs (one of many wonderful books donated by our friends at World Publications Group), a folder with pictures of dogs and a notebook with a picture of a dog on it. All of Brianna’s items were coordinated just for her. She felt very special.

This is some of the magic we get to see when we provide our personalized one-on-one tutoring/mentoring services to our students.