Emerald Heights, a retirement community, has its very own elves in The Wooden Toy Makers, a group of residents that make wooden toys for charities.
There are cars, airplanes, trucks, blocks, tug boats, dinosaurs, and more — each one unique.
This year, the 12-resident group donated more than 800 handmade gifts. A crafts group at the community makes cloth drawstring bags for the toys. The Wooden Toymakers group is led by Dale Thompson, an Emerald Heights resident, and Mary Miele of Canyon Creek Cabinet Company.
The Wooden Toymakers enjoy giving gifts that let the imagination run wild. In an era of flashy electronic toys, the wooden toys are something refreshing and different.
“I am a great fan of blocks because they require imagination to see them as spaceships, cows, or books,” Thompson said. “And their batteries never go dead.”
The wood for the toys is donated by Canyon Creek Cabinet Company.
“We enjoy seeing our wood cut-offs repurposed into toys for children — five pallets worth so far — and look forward to donating additional wood materials to Wooden Toys for Charity in the future,” says John Earl, environmental manager at Canyon Creek.
The Wooden Toymakers increase their output every year. Last year, the group donated 624 toys. This year, the group surpassed that number significantly. Since its beginning in 2014, the group has made more than 1,000 toys total.
Organizations that benefit from the donated toys are:
- Seattle Children’s Hospital
- Ronald McDonald House
- Union Gospel Mission
- Mary’s Place
When asked why the group continues to work hard at making wooden toys, Thompson said the hard work has a payoff:
“The children receive something that they can enjoy, play with, and share. It’s rewarding to give them that,” he said.