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Teen repurposes Legos destined for the trash into unique custom sets: 'It's been getting bigger'

"Legos are expensive. A lot of people don't get access to them."

"Legos are expensive. A lot of people don’t get access to them."

Photo Credit: iStock

A California teenager and lifelong Lego enthusiast was dismayed to see his friends tossing their old sets, so he decided to do something about it.

"They just go into a landfill," Charlie Jeffers, 17, told The Washington Post in January. 

Unfortunately, Legos are incredibly difficult to recycle using standard methods. But Jeffers had another idea: simply repurpose them.

Not only would salvaging and repurposing Legos keep the plastic pieces out of landfills, it would bring the joy of play to a new generation of children. 

"Legos are expensive," Jeffers said to the outlet. "A lot of people don't get access to them."

After spreading the word in his neighborhood, Jeffers was inundated with donations of old Lego sets, dropped off or delivered directly at his doorway. After receiving a set, he would sanitize it and then re-sort its bricks. 

Since most kits generally come to him with missing pieces, he began repackaging them into new kits so that not a single piece would go to waste. Now, the kits he makes through his organization — which he named Pass the Bricks — are funky and unique, with sets like "Chewbacca's Housewarming Party" and "Iron Man Goes to the Car Wash."

"We're trying to make them really fun," he said.

After repackaging the sets, Jeffers donates them to local nonprofit organizations that work with children, often delivering them by hand. His organization, which was founded in 2020, has donated more than 3,000 sets. 

"The Lego sets were a great complement to our impactful STEM programming," said Jamin McVeigh, SVP of Development at Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco, per the Post. "We appreciate the opportunity to share them with the youth and families we serve."

It's a satisfying mission for Jeffers, who explained that Legos played an important role in his own growth and encouraged his curiosity. 

"I was so lucky to have access to a toy like that," he said. "I want to give other kids the same opportunity."

Many others felt the same. Word of his efforts quickly spread, and Pass the Bricks now has 25 volunteers across California, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Michigan, and Florida. Each volunteer follows the same model as they collect, sanitize, sort, repackage, and donate bricks in their own communities.

"The ball got rolling … and it's been getting bigger since," Jeffers said. 

And as for the future? More cities, more volunteers — and more Lego fun for all.

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