Retirees make 300,000 toys, bring countless smiles

Hudson, Florida --The ideastarted in 1982, when aboy was in the hospitaland hadno toys to play with.

That ideabecameToyMakers, agroup of retired engineers, construction workers, and othersthat, as of Wednesday, has handcrafted anddelivered 300,000 toys to kids in hospitals.

"It's going to take a while for us to hit 400,000, probably another five years," says ToyMaker Carl Hansen, "But we'll get there. We sure will."

The work -- though ToyMakers say it's way more fun than work -- starts in a small workshop hidden just off SR 52 in Hudson. Volunteers dedicate their time, asking for nothing in return.

"Nobody's making a penny doing this, so they're all doing it from inside of them to give someone else some happiness," says ToyMaker Hugo Helmer.

They start with donated scrap wood, which would otherwise be burned or thrown away. They draw outtemplates, saw and sand, then paint, put on axels and wheels, and put their own wheels into motion.

On Wednesday, they drove to the Ronald McDonald Houses in Tampa and St. Petersburg, which both help childrenand families inthe hospital.

"It's cool," says Greg Marquez about the handcrafted bulldozer he received from Hansen. He was surprised to hear that Hansen had made the toy himself.

"One time I was asking the staff what they thought about the toys and the gal told me, 'You won't believe this. In some of our families, the only toys they've got are the toys you give them that they take home with them,'" Hansen says.

Though the wood is donated, ToyMakers does have to spend money for wheels and paint. If you'd like to donate or volunteer, head to the ToyMakers website.

Follow 10 News Reporter Ashley Porter on twitter @ashleyreporter


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