Andy, SVP UK at MGA Entertainment and chairman of the BTHA, is calling on the industry to get involved in any way it can.
Toy companies in both the UK and the USA are being urged to help out with efforts to relieve pressure on hospitals and medical professionals as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to claim lives worldwide.
Andrew Laughton, senior vice president UK at MGA Entertainment, is helping to oversee Operation Pacman, a non-profit organisation to help fight the global spread of the coronavirus. Kick-started with $5m of funding from MGA’s L.O.L Surprise!, the organisation is asking for donations from individuals and companies – all of which will be matched by Isaac Larian himself – to help purchase medical supplies such as N95 masks and face visors which will then be distributed to hospitals which need them. While the scheme is US-centric at present, it is hoped that an international roll-out will follow.
In addition, the designers and engineers at MGAE and Little Tikes have invented a prototype ventilator that is undergoing testing at UCLA. This unit will address the supply shortage of the current ventilators being used at a fraction of the cost. Once clinically approved, the Little Tikes factory, located in Hudson, Ohio, will begin mass production for immediate distribution in the US.
As chairman of the British Toy and Hobby Association, Andrew is also working closely with Roland Earl, director general, and Natasha Crookes, director of public affairs and communication, to coordinate a response from the wider UK toy industry. BTHA members have already been contacted for their support, with Andrew urging people to think outside the box regarding the assistance they can offer.
“Smyths has donated a number of baby monitors to a hospital in Galway, so that kids on the wards can chat with each other while still keeping their distance and staying safe,” says Andrew. “It’s easy to forget that there are plenty of people in hospital who don’t have the virus, and they still need care and support too. I’ve reached out to some other companies who make kids walkie-talkies and similar things, to see if this is something they might like to be involved in. Even if you can’t help with the pandemic response directly, your company could help other areas of the NHS that are also under strain and other patients that need cheering up. This is the time for everyone to work together.The toy industry isn’t going to save the world, and we aren’t going to find the cure for the virus, but even if we can save one life, help just one person in need, it’s worth all the effort. The toy industry can help – and it should.”
If you have an idea for fundraising, can donate money for medical supplies, or think your company could help with manufacturing, please contact Andy (ALaughton@mgae.com) or Roland (Roland@btha.co.uk).