Recycled Puzzles Make Perfect Presents

Dec 14, 2021

Puzzled by what to do with the jigsaw puzzles stacked in the back of your storage closet? David Mangelsen, owner of Mangelsen’s arts and crafts store in Omaha, has a solution.

“I realized that people typically put together a puzzle one time and then, once it’s done, they disassemble it, put the pieces back in the box, and it ends up discarded on a shelf somewhere,” Mr. Mangelsen explained. “I thought, why not offer an incentive that would encourage people to recycle their puzzles so someone else could enjoy them.”

Mr. Mangelsen launched “Puzzle Day” at his store on S. 84th Street last January, during which shoppers turned in their previously assembled puzzles and received 30% off the purchase of a new puzzle. Over the past 11 months, shoppers have donated dozens of puzzles, sometimes bags and boxes full of them at a time.

Once Mr. Mangelsen had accumulated a generous supply of donated puzzles, he wasn’t sure how to get them into the hands of people in need who might enjoy them. Enter Food Bank for the Heartland, which connected Mangelsen’s with The Salvation Army.

Staff from The Salvation Army’s material assistance and seasonal services program picked up the donated puzzles on Dec. 13 and will distribute them to families and seniors in need during its annual Toyland days on Dec. 17 and 18 at the Kroc Center, North Corps and Citadel Corps.

The puzzles will be added to the thousands of toys and gifts that have been donated to The Salvation Army over the past several weeks to help families and seniors in need this holiday season. The Salvation Army estimates that approximately 16,000 individuals in the Omaha metro will be served by its Adopt-A-Family and Toyland Christmas assistance programs – a 10% increase from 2020.

“It’s a win-win,” acknowledged Mr. Mangelsen, who hopes the idea of recycling and donating puzzles will catch on in other cities. “This exchange extends the life of a puzzle and gives others the opportunity to get enjoyment from them too.”

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