GIVEAWAY: Eco-Friendly, Locally-Made, Free-Play Toys

Local Artist Creates Toys That Encourage Creative Free Play

Enter to win a fantasy birthday celebration kit that includes these non-toxic limited edition free-play toys by local artist/entrepreneur, Janet Street, plus CD's and a kids birthday party performance by local kids musician, Dennis Caraher. Deadline to enter to win: Midnight on Dec 5th, 2011

We were recently approached by Janet Street, a Northampton artist and entrepreneur who has launched an eco-friendly, open play toy initiative, Easy Keepers, that she is campaigning to fund through Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform that showcases creative projects by individuals or groups who are seeking funding… We were intrigued! I shared Janet’s video that outlines and highlights her toys with my 9yo daughter. Her response, “I’d play with those.” – So we invited Janet to tell us more about her project to share with our readers.

Plus, we’re pleased to partner with her in a fabulous promotion to giveaway a very exciting package of toys and music to one very lucky family! Wait until you see the package she has put together! Along with her husband, local musician Dennis Caraher, they are not only offering a limited edition of her new toys, but also music CD’s and a kids birthday party performance! We’ve gushed about it below, but first we want to tell you about both Easy Keepers and Kickstarter, two really cool ideas!

EASY KEEPERS

Easy Keepers are eco-friendly bendable horse toys, created by Northampton artist Janet Street. Janet first came up with the idea and sculpted prototypes in the mid 1990’s but shelved the project until a year ago. With online technology like Kickstarter, and the growing demand for non-toxic, locally-made, creative free-play toys, the time just seemed right to pick back up the prototypes and move forward.

NON-TOXIC: Unable to find an eco-friendly USA manufacturer to make these toys, Janet developed her own process and materials for manufacturing. “My hope is that Easy Keepers will catch on and provide a viable alternative to toys manufactured in China, made of toxic, environmentally harmful plastic, mainly PVC,” writes Janet.

NON-COMMERCIAL: Although the materials are an innovative feature of Easy Keepers, the most important feature by far is the play factor. “It’s a toy that needs no media-driven backstory to dictate what to do with it. No electronics or gimmicks. No overstated “educational” component,” she writes. “My belief is that children want to and need to create their own world of play, using their own imaginations. Toys should be a starting point, an inspiration, for self-discovery.”

KICKSTARTER

Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform that showcases creative projects by individuals or groups who are seeking funding. It brings together a community of people looking for project funding with people interested in supporting creative ventures. It provides a format for participants to communicate their idea with a wide audience. The site provides an alternative to traditional funding sources, with the main qualification being a compelling presentation of the project. Supporters receive incentives or rewards for their donation, if the funding goal is met. If not, no funds are paid out. If the funding goal is met or exceeded, the donations are paid and Kickstarter receives a small percentage.

“Kickstarter funding will allow us to hire skilled artisans to help make the molds, cast and finish the toys,” writes Janet. “Otherwise, making toys by hand, in small quantities will make it difficult to price the toys reasonably. With the help of our community and new Kickstarter friends, we hope to reach our funding goal by December 5th.”

Want to find out more about Janet’s project on Kickstarter? Check it out at HERE.

GIVEAWAY

Here’s the amazing package Janet and her husband, Dennis Caraher, are offering (valued at over $400):

  • Two limited edition Easy Keepers toys
  • Two Carrying Case Barns
  • One Easy Keepers Gift Certificate
  • Two signed Easy Keepers posters, set of four refrigerator magnets, set of four coasters and bookmark
  • Three music CD’s by Dennis Caraher: I Miss the Mud, Dog Bone Town, Bow Wow Baby
  • Dennis Caraher Music: Kid’s Birthday Party Performance

Win this packet and have the most amazing birthday party for your favorite kid, presents included!

HOW TO WIN

Your chance to win Janet’s collection outlined above is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!

To enter to win simply:

  1. CONSIDER SHARING ON FACEBOOK by selecting the Facebook icon below;
  2. TELL US HOW HILLTOWN FAMILIES CONNECTS YOUR FAMILY WITH NEWS & INFORMATION ON NON-COMMERCIAL CREATIVE FREE PLAY below (one entry per household); and be sure to tell us your
  3. FULL NAME and where you
  4. LIVE (TOWN/STATE), Must include your town to be eligible.
  5. ACCURATE EMAIL IN THE EMAIL FIELD BELOW (we never share your email address with a third party).
  6. We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Monday, 12/05/11 by midnight (EST).

Find out more about Janet Street, Easy Keepers and Kickstarter, check out her project HERE.

22 Comments

  1. December 6, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Congratulations to:

    • Sandy Dias of Holyoke, MA

    Sandra has won:

    • Two limited edition Easy Keepers toys
    • Two Carrying Case Barns
    • One Easy Keepers Gift Certificate
    • Two signed Easy Keepers posters, set of four refrigerator magnets, set of four coasters and bookmark
    • Three music CD’s by Dennis Caraher: I Miss the Mud, Dog Bone Town, Bow Wow Baby
    • Dennis Caraher Music: Kid’s Birthday Party Performance

    And should contact us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com to find out how to claim her prize.

    Thank you to everyone who participated this promotion and supported Janet in her endeavor. We wish her the BEST OF LUCK!!!

  2. Maxine Oland said,

    December 5, 2011 at 11:31 am

    It’s so wonderful to be able to check the Hilltown Families emails and website for non-commercial events/ playgroups, etc. You are an amazing resource!

    Belchertown, MA

  3. Sandy Dias said,

    December 3, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    I always go to Hilltown Families to find fun things to do across the Valley with my four-year-old daughter.

    Sandy Dias
    Holyoke, ma

  4. Stacy Calabretta said,

    December 2, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    Hilltown families is where I check (often!) for info on activities and events to do with my daughter where we can learn, enjoy, and sometimes create. Without this comprehensive weekly resource, I doubt I’d know about many of these events that keep us connected to the landscape without structured, commercialized time.

    Stacy Calabretta
    Goshen, MA

  5. Jessica said,

    November 29, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    Hilltown families shares the values of this project. Great to have ideas for things that don’t involve materialism.

    Jessica Morris
    Northampton MA

  6. valerie gintis said,

    November 29, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    This site is my first “go-to” for all things for kids to do. It is the site I go to first when planning my week and the information via facebook makes it even easier to find out what’s going on and read what other parents are thinking about pressing issues. Thanks!

    Valerie G.
    Northampton, MA

  7. Sue Lowery said,

    November 29, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Hilltown Families is a great source of information on activities that will engage the entire family.

    Montague, MA

  8. Sue Lowery said,

    November 29, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Hilltown Families is a great source of information on activities that will engage the entire family.I

  9. Jenn said,

    November 24, 2011 at 8:10 am

    Hilltown Families supports all of us in whatever our needs are. From informative resources to community activities, Hilltown Families gives us the knowledge! Knowledge is truly power! Hilltown Families is the epicenter of knowledge. With all the information out there, I can always count on Hilltown’s to be accurate, environmentally aware and the articles have our best interests at heart. As Hilltown Familes grow, quality is never compromised! Refreshing at a time when everyone is cutting corners to save money. We don’t need to worry about that here! Hilltown Families also helps us to connect with local businesses that fit our needs and this helps us have a greater sense of community responsibility. Thank you Hilltown Families!
    Jenn Therrien
    Westhampton

  10. Amanda Saklad said,

    November 19, 2011 at 7:28 am

    Hilltown Families lets us know the best local stuff going on – from special events at the Carle to ongoing weekly playdates! I’m going to share the Easy Keeper with EVERYONE!! rock on HF!

    -Belchertown, MA

  11. Jackie MacNeish said,

    November 18, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    On Tuesday night this past week I went to hear Dr. Susan Linn speak of the Importance of Creative Play in a Commercialized World hosted by Hilltown Families at the Meekins Library. It was fantastic – A topic I’m passionate about and yet wanted to know more about, a knowledgable and interesting presentation, and a community of different people (young, teenagers, elders, students, teachers, parents, etc) gathered together to listen, think and discuss. I would like to attend one of these discussions each month, so I hope there are more coming our way!

    Jackie
    Ashfield, MA

  12. Chris Sanborn from Montague said,

    November 17, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    I’m gonna try this once more and see if I get it right (forgot my full name):

    I love this site! I check it weekly to find events and activities for my 2 year old and 4 year old. Thanks for the free service, and thanks for sharing Easy Keepers. Janet is an amazing artist, teacher, and parent (I taught her son at Greenfield Center School) and her toys are just so irresistible (I’ve seen them live).

  13. Chris from Montague said,

    November 17, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    I forgot to post my town on the comment before this one.

  14. Chris said,

    November 17, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    I love this site! I check it weekly to find events and activities for my 2 year old and 4 year old. Thanks for the free service, and thanks for sharing Easy Keepers. Janet is an amazing artist, teacher, and parent (I taught her son at Greenfield Center School) and her toys are just so irresistible (I’ve seen them live).

  15. Chris Curtis said,

    November 16, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    I can always count on Hilltown Families to keep me infomed on the best products and activities!

    South Hadley, MA

  16. Janet Street said,

    November 16, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Looks like I need to add “www”:
    http://www.easykeepers.com

  17. Janet Street said,

    November 16, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Hi! Thanks for all of the wonderful, encouraging support for Easy Keepers. Easy Keepers spotted donkeys–they would be so cute with those long ears. I have lots of ideas for Easy Keepers and other toys, but for now just focusing on trying to raise funds to start production here in Northampton. Easy Keepers can be ordered on Kickstarter. Here’s the link:http://kck.st/uL6WK9. Our website: easykeepers.com. Also, please like us on Facebook, and share this with friends. I really appreciate your help and comments!

  18. Pamela Cobb said,

    November 16, 2011 at 9:31 am

    I have been receiving emails from Hilltown Families for over a year and now rely on them, and the website, for the kind of news, events and products that I am particularly interested in. Thank you for providing this resource!!

    Pamela Cobb
    Leeds, MA

  19. tiptoppinto said,

    November 15, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    This is such a great holiday idea,seen it on fb,and shared a friensd request right away.Love the spirit of creatitivity and the freedom to see new products.Also would be great gifts for my grandchildren.We need lots of these in Baraboo,Wisconsin,theses easykeepers would be a hit!

  20. Maryellen Rousseau said,

    November 15, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    I love the Easy Keeper horses! They are adorable, plus I love that they are made locally AND non-toxic. I’m so happy that you are supporting this company and getting the word out. Go Hilltown Families!

    Maryellen from Easthampton

  21. Marty Gwinn said,

    November 15, 2011 at 2:11 am

    These are great!! How do I buy em’? would love to have you see pictures of my mini spotted donkeys that would be a great addition to your line!! Thanks, Marty

  22. domestic diva said,

    November 14, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Beautiful things! I’ve been encouraged to try doing more things on my own — just make it up as we go along.


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