A toy is a universal symbol of play – a time when a child’s senses are engaged, creativity is sparked, and joy is prevalent. Capturing these qualities and bringing job through toys is the latest outreach of the Herby Ham Activity Center’s Project Grace charity program.
“Toys of Grace is a product of Project Grace, which is an outreach to children and teens who are ill, experienced trauma, or have been removed from their homes,” said Herby Ham Activity Center director Sue Rankin.
Project Grace began in the spring of last year, and currently consists of quilts of grace and yarns of grace – initiatives that present hand-crotchet hats and booties along with quilted blankets to children in crisis, in partnership with the Bluebonnet Advocacy Center Court Appointed Special Advocates Program. The project recently donated its 150th quilt, Rankin said.
Expanding their reach, the Center will be utilizing the wood shop to make wooden toy cars.
Rankin said the idea came to her after praying on ways to expand the use of the wood shop. Her research led her to Alton Thacker, of Tiny Tim’s Foundation for Kids, a non-profit built around the dream of bringing a smile to as many children’s faces as possible.
Based in Utah, the foundation coordinates with volunteers in the community to make toys for children – at the rate of 64,000 toys every year.
“I’ve reached out to Thacker about help with a design for the cars,” said Rankin.
She has also coordinated with the Uvalde County Sheriff’s Office and Uvalde Memorial Hospital for distribution.
The organizations will have the toys to distribute to children as needed. “It’s a different kind of outreach; a toy car can even be given out during a routine traffic stop, if an officer sees that a child is frightened by the scenario,” Rankin said.
“People come to the center for self-improvement, through classes, exercise and community building. This project is a great way for us to give back, and what a better way than through kids,” explained Rankin, “and wooden cares have a timeless quality.”
Volunteers are needed for making the cars, painting them and assembly.
“It’s not necessary to be a carpenter to be involved in this program – just like Quilts of Grace, where being a quilter is not a prerequisite – there is a job to be found with tasks such as ironing, and fabric sorting – the same applies here with the wooden toy project,” Rankin said.
For those participating in this program, the normal fee for woodshop use will be waived.
They are also seeking donations of wood and non-toxic paint. Monetary donations can also help with material purchases.
The center is holding an information session on Tuesday at 6 p.m. for anyone interested in participating.
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