Saws, shapers and sanders get put to good use

Saws, shapers and sanders get put to good use

Woodworkers Club holds annual toy fair

Doll cradles and beds complete with quilts, and miniature ironing boards with irons were among the 200-plus toys distributed to each charity

Doll cradles and beds complete with quilts, and miniature ironing boards with irons were among the 200-plus toys distributed to each charity

The 24th annual Jacksonville Woodworkers Club Toy Fair on Nov. 16 was the culmination of ten and a half months of cutting, gluing, shaping and sanding and resulted in 4,460 wooden toys. Or, as club president Margaret Miller noted, “over 10,000 wheels.”

Each of the 21 charities received a miniature rocking horse in their boxes of wooden toys

Each of the 21 charities received a miniature rocking horse in their boxes of wooden toys

Chet Davis, project coordinator, said the club will take a rest now until then end of the year, then members will start back up in January, meeting monthly and making toys for next year.
The woodworkers, numbering between 40 and 60, have made well over 40,000 toys in over two decades. Plans are posted on the website (www.jaxwoodworkers.org) and include a variety of toys: race cars and dune buggies, airplanes, bulldozers, dump trucks, doll beds, animal puzzles, tractors, fire trucks and wagons, among others.

Laura Rose Ashley has been making toy cars and “whatever suits my fancy” for 25 years. She wrote a poem in 2003 about why the woodworkers put so much time – and love – into this annual project. “To see a smile on children’s faces, to get a hug, a warm embrace…”

Twenty-one local nonprofits – some new, most repeat recipients – were there to explain what the gift meant to them. Rosa Heard, of the Jacksonville Speech and Hearing Center’s Board of Directors, said “It’s amazing. I had no idea it would be this much. This is what Santa’s workshop must look like.”

Rosa Heard, board member for Jacksonville Speech and Hearing Center, holds a handcrafted helicopter, which will be used at the Center

Rosa Heard, board member for Jacksonville Speech and Hearing Center, holds a handcrafted helicopter, which will be used at the Center

Heard shared that the speech pathologists at the Center use the toys in therapy and also send them home with the children. “What a blessing this is,” she said.Two ministries with home bases at Southside Baptist Church were grateful as well for the toys. Laura Miller, representing the Karen Ministries which works with Burmese and Thai refugees, said “I am awestruck by the creativity and generosity here. It’s a privilege and an honor to be included in this event.”

The other ministry served through Southside Baptist is the Larsen Ministry, which assists the residents in that neighborhood who have no water due to failing, contaminated wells and lack of city water lines. “It’s extraordinarily expensive to get hooked up to city water,” said Rebecca Williams. “The Larsen Ministry provides water and food through its 4x4x4 Box of Love and the toys will be included.”

The toy giveaway was held for the first time at St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church, 4758 Shelby Avenue, whose youth group helped set up the toys. The club had lost its long-time venue, The Piccadilly, earlier this year when it closed.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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