" I’m a retired mechanical engineer who enjoys woodworking and am honing my skills by building toys. As a parent and former Gymboree owner (long ago), I have always been interested in the welfare of children. Opportunities have arisen through various channels (friends, family, friends of friends, etc.) so that I can build first and know that my cars will always find happy homes. I keep a world map on my office wall with dot stickers to show their locations. Most of the cars are targeted to children in need, but I must admit that some lucky kids also get them just so I can add a dot in a new location!
I am trying to produce on a more regular basis, as long as I can identify the need. This year I made 168 cars and still have about 50 left looking for homes. Since I’m still waiting for the Danish Oil finish to fully cure, there is no rush. I’ve devoted my 2019 search to American Indian tribes, have already donated to Sioux and Detroit Indian Services and am pursuing contacts with the Navajo Nation. I also have a potential contact at a refugee camp in Tucson. I am also planning on reaching out to area community service organizations (stocking stuffers) and Ronald McDonald house.
I am a solo woodworker but have reached out to others to help with the final sanding and assembly. My first group was from Elara Caring Michigan, where I am a hospice volunteer – our Saturday workshop was a great success, and we finish sanded 100 cars! My goal is to involve as many people in the process as possible, regardless of skill level.
Prior distributions were through friends and family who were traveling worldwide. This year, I posted to my personal Facebook page that I was looking for locations and was referred to the Simply Smiles Children’s Village at the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. A private high school in New York, Milbrook, assists with their summer day camp and will take 60 unassembled car kits with them next June as a craft project for the kids. This was a new opportunity for me which required more photos and detailed assembly instructions for non-woodworkers. I must admit, I’m a little worried about releasing control prior to assembly, but if it works, this would be a welcome avenue to pursue in the future.
The more cars I pass out, the more joy I want to spread. I recently gave cars to 2 neighbors walking by for their grandchildren and to the young man who cleaned my gutters – all greeted the unexpected gifts with huge smiles!
I promise I’ll add more to my Facebook page. In particular, I’d like to add more photos of the build process, which I try to keep as simple as possible. For example, I recently uploaded a pdf pattern file to the Bear Woods Wooden Toys and Models group page to show how easy it is to create 72 cars out of (1) 2x4x8.
If there is anything else you’d like to know, please do not hesitate to ask – no secrets in this workshop!!!