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Seeking Safer Toys? "Buy American" is Back in Vogue

(ARA) - Parents looking to fill their children's holiday wish lists have more on their minds this year than whether Johnny was naughty or Susie was nice. This year, parents are plagued by recalls of some of the season's most-sought-after toys by big-name manufacturers. The recent recalls of Chinese-manufactured toys have given a whole new life to the concept "buy American." "Buying toys and other goods made in America has always been a patriotic thing to do, something that supported the domestic economy," says Glenda Lehman-Ervin, mother of two and a principal of Lehman's, an old-time general store located in Kidron, Ohio. "Now, it feels like a question of safety, as well." But the good news is, there are American-made alternatives, toys that offer imagination-building activity and old-fashioned fun - without the contamination risks that have come to be associated with some foreign-made toys. "A lot of these toys are low-tech, interactive toys that really engage a child's imagination," Lehman-Ervin says. "And they are manufactured domestically, many by hand, making them not just toys but a piece of American heritage as well." Looking to fill your child's Christmas dreams with American-made products this year? Here are some options: * Classic rag dolls - "What toy is more American than a hand-made rag doll?" Lehman-Ervin says. Illustrator and author Johnny Gruelle created the most famous rag doll, Raggedy Ann, for his daughter in 1915, and Raggedy Ann's brother, Andy, came along in 1918. Mothers have handstitched the dolls for decades, and mass marketing of the characters hasn't changed the fact that the most popular versions are still handmade. Lehman's offers Ann and Andy rag dolls that are still handmade by a real mother, who stitches them the old-fashioned way. * Wood is welcome - From yo-yos to train whistles, some of the best-loved American-made toys are made from wood. It's possible to find wooden toys at virtually every price point that are appropriate for different age groups. Pick-up sticks, a simple, classic puzzle game can be had in an American-made version for just $9.95. Wooden whistles cost even less, while Amish-made toy trains and wood and metal wagons range higher. * Moving American-style - The bicycle may have been invented abroad, but American kids cemented the bike's position as a classic toy in the 1950s and '60s. Bikes today are a multi-million-dollar industry, with some top line names being designed and built overseas. But it is still possible to find bikes and tricycles made domestically. Check out www.lehmans.com for "The Best Tricycle Ever." * Metal means fun - From Slinkies to devilishly simple-seeming puzzle games, metal toys have a long tradition as favorites in Christmas stockings. While modern Slinkies are made from plastic, a limited collectors' edition metal Slinky is still made. And, ironically, many so-called Chinese puzzles - in which a child has to unlock intricately interwoven metal pieces - are actually made in the Unites States. For more made in America toy ideas, visit www.lehmans.com .

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