in Company News
In the height of an economic crisis, Santa Claus isn't tightening his belt for needy families.
Members of the Cedar Valley Woodworkers Association have taken the reins to ensure area children find something under the Christmas tree this holiday season. On Wednesday, their 92 handcrafted toys - doll cradles, toolboxes, rocking horses, bulletin boards and more - were presented to the Salvation Army in Waterloo.
"I'm just overwhelmed, this is beautiful," said Capt. Rob Whitney of the Salvation Army. "It's such a blessing. These things always lift my heart because I know kids are going to really smile when they see these things." The toys will stock shelves at the Salvation Army's annual Toy Shop in December, allowing parents of qualified families to pick out holiday gifts for their children. "The parents come in and they want everything," said Sue Hennings, the Salvation Army's development director. "These are always the first toys to go. They are just so special, and I'm sure they're done with much tender love and care." This is the fifth year the club has put its talents to work for the event, spending countless hours sawing, sanding and building the toys.
Members try to concentrate on the most popular items. Demand for girls' things, for example, has been high in past years, so Bob Colby chipped in a dozen of 34 doll cradles. Donated teddy bears were tucked in with bedding made by his wife, Virginia. "It's neat seeing the people pick out the different things for their children," said the club's president Pat Vollbrecht, who volunteers at the Toy Shop. "These are obviously people that are in financial need, and this gives them an opportunity to have some pretty nice gifts for their children."
"You can't fill your own house with everything you make, so you start making stuff for other people," said Reed Craft, who also serves on the Salvation Army advisory board. About 15 of the club's 105 members participated in the toy drive. Bertch Cabinets, Omega Cabinets, Wieland and Sons Lumber Co., of Winthrop, and Waterloo Lumber Co. donated wood for the projects.
Already the Salvation Army has seen a greater need for holiday assistance than last year. And Hennings expects numbers to top those from the past five or six years. Tornado or flood victims with strained holiday budgets shouldn't be shy, about applying for help, Hennings said. "To have nothing and to not know where to turn for assistance, that's got to be very hard, especially for first-timers - people who have never ever had to ask for anything in their life, and here they are having to ask," said Hennings, who's been living at the Salvation Army since the May 25 tornado tore through her Parkersburg home.
The Salvation Army doesn't stamp its mark on the toys, so kids never have to know where they came from. "That's really special for people who just don't know really how to deal with that," Hennings said.