Lego resale store provides job training for people with disabilities, fun for all

Lego resale store provides job training for people with disabilities, fun for all
Jawonio to open Brick It Again Lego store in Valley Cottage
Jawonio’s Brick It Again, a Lego resale store in Valley Cottage March 24, 2023. Staff will include people with disabilities, which gives them jobs, skills and income.
Peter Carr, Rockland/Westchester Journal News

VALLEY COTTAGE — Brandon Buccellato was focused and fast, putting together a Lego Harry Potter Hogwarts Board Game like it was his job on a recent Friday morning.

That’s because it is his job. The 28-year-old is a Lego master model builder at “Brick It Again,” a new Legoresale store run by Jawonio, a nonprofit provider of lifespan services for people with special needs throughout the Hudson Valley.

Buccellato, who figured he could finish the board in a couple hours, also participates in Jawonio’s PROs, which is a recovery-based mental health program.

That’s the dual goal of Brick it, said Jawonio CEO Randi Rios-Castro. “At the heart of our mission for the store is to provide vocational and employment opportunities for individuals with special needs to achieve their highest levels of independence.” Profits from the store will be used to support Jawonio’s programs.

Brick It Again, located in Lake Ridge Plaza, had its soft opening last week. A grand opening is slated for Tuesday.

What’s in store

While there are new products available through Jawonio’s official affiliation with Lego, 80% of the stock will be recycled products.

A donor provided several kits from the new line of Lego Friends that includes characters with a range of disabilities. The so-called “invisible” disabilities include autism, ADHD and anxiety.

The rest of the stock comes from people donating Lego and Duplo kits or bags of random bricks. Brick It takes “as-is” theme-box packages, but asks that donors let workers know if there’s a piece missing. (It’s great reason to clean out that basement, one Jawonio staff member said.)

The workers wash, sort and scan the bricks to ensure they are actual Lego products and not knock-offs.

And they test them out, for quality control.

That’s what Buccellato was doing Friday when he was putting the Harry Potter board game together ‒ making sure all the pieces were in the box that was donated to Brick It.

He’ll then disassemble it so Brick It can sell it to someone who can have their own fun putting the board together.

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When and where

Brick It Again holds its grand opening at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

The store’s located in the Lake Ridge Plaza Shopping Center in Valley Cottage on Route 303.

Store hours will be Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The store will host birthday parties and special events.

To arrange a Lego product donation, call 845-708-2000 or email [email protected]. There are also drop-off locations at Jawonio’s main campus, 260 North Little Tor Road, New City, and at its building at 176 S. Broadway, Yonkers.

A donation is tax-deductible and a receipt will be emailed.

Nancy Cutler writes about People & Policy. Follow her on Twitter at @nancyrockland.

This content was originally published here.