High school senior makes community connections with upcycled Legos

Charlie Jeffers, founder of Pass the Bricks nonprofit, poses with his original designed Lego sets from donated bricks
Charlie Jeffers

Charlie Jeffers, a 17-year-old high school senior at Redwood High School in Marin County, California, has big dreams — and he’s building them one Lego brick at a time.

A passing thought wondering what happens to old Lego sets and bricks after people are done playing with them inspired Jeffers to launch a nonprofit organization called Pass the Bricks. Its goal? To get Legos into the hands of as many kids as possible to help build creativity and confidence.

“During the pandemic, I built a lot of Lego sets, and it got me thinking that there are probably a lot of children who don’t have access to a play tool like Lego, which is so important to their cognitive and emotional development,” Jeffers told Simplemost.

17-year-old Charlie Jeffers poses with numerous Lego sets donated to his Pass the Bricks nonprofit organization
Charlie Jeffers

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Access to Legos can be difficult for many children because building sets can be expensive. So, the industrious teen knew there had to be a way to bring together kids who would love Legos with no-longer-wanted plastic bricks that might ultimately wind up in a landfill.

So, Jeffers started asking people to donate their extra sets and bricks. As the piles of Legos poured in, he would wash and sanitize them and then reassemble the random bricks into new sets to distribute to children.

Examples of his sets include a 3-in-1 motorcycle kit and a Droid Escape Pod inspired by a famous science fiction/fantasy movie series.

Two Pass the Brick original Lego sets, a "Star Wars" inspired kit and a motorcycle kit, designed by Charlie Jeffers as part of his nonprofit organization
Charlie Jeffers

Two of Jeffers’ original goals for Pass the Bricks included collecting 800 pounds of Lego bricks from the community and donating 1,000 unique sets in the first year. As of fall 2023, Pass the Bricks has collected nearly 900 pounds of Legos and delivered 3,000 sets to kids.

“To see (the kids) play with Lego for the first time is so awesome, and definitely makes me want to keep doing this,” he said.

Charlie Jeffers distributes original Lego desgin sets using donated bricks to his Pass the Bricks nonprofit organization
Charlie Jeffers

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The Pass the Bricks initiative has gained momentum over the past few months, and Jeffers hopes to build on it. The organization recently expanded to 16 additional cities, bringing the total to 25.

“We’re really focusing right now on expanding Pass the Bricks to other cities across the U.S. and in other countries,” Jeffers said. “So, we’re looking for ‘ambassadors’ who want to start the program in their communities … including nonprofit organizations that help kids and families in need.”

Pass the Bricks aims to deliver 100,000 “new” Lego sets to kids by 2026.

If you’re interested in donating money or Lego bricks, or getting more information about how to be a Pass the Bricks ambassador, visit PasstheBricks.org or the organization’s official Instagram account.

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About the Author
Marie Rossiter
Marie is a freelance writer and content creator with more than 20 years of experience in journalism. She lives in southwest Ohio with her husband and is almost a full-fledged empty nest mom of two daughters. She loves music, reading, word games, and Walt Disney World.

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