Yes folks, we’re still making smiles. It’s been over a year since you’ve last heard from us, and a tough year at that. But on the other hand, we couldn’t travel much so we just stayed home and made cars. In fact, we’re making so many, there is little doubt that we will set a franchise record for toys made in one year. We’re thinking over 400,000.Wow!
We’ve also learned patience. Nothing worked like it used to. But patience is not bad to learn so we must be better for it. There are other good things that have happened in the Year of Covid.
As a result, we’re working with more groups that help us install wheels. We have events going on in nursing homes, retirement communities, corporate sponsors, kid’s camps, and anyone who wants to help get these cars out on the road. Thanks to all of you for that help.
Brave Church in CO does a week-long summer camp each year that involves 500 kids and 300 volunteers. One of the opportunities offered was "Builders" (3 through 5grade) where Smilemaker Bob Gullion with six volunteers helped two classes each day. Bob motivated them by telling them that Marlin had called him with a request to help build cars for the children in detention at the US/Mexico border. Since these children were our neighbors we could build these cars as a way to "love our neighbor" as the Bible teaches us. They got so excited and so good at doing the work to put the cars together that we ended up with over 1,400 cars being assembled. Bob stated it brought tears to his eyes to think back on how excited and engaged they became with the whole project. The plastic wheels that Royal Technologies gave us have truly been a blessing. They are so easy to install; just a hammer, no glue to mess things up.
Abe Adriano and his wife Jing have sent tens of thousands of toys to the Philippines over the years. Attached are pictures of kids who received some of their cars last year thanks to Tim Atchley from Seeds of Dignity Ministries who writes: “Our president, Peter Cowles has asked that I pass along the photos of children receiving the wooden toys we provide at several ministry outreach events. Toys For God’s Kids gracious provision has brought joy to many kids on these occasions. They are given out in many different circumstances including to children facing corrective surgeries for cleft/palate deformities and club foot corrections at Tebow Cure Children's hospital in Davao City. They are always a hit as you can tell from the smiles on their faces. Thank you for your ministry and may God continue to bless you as you serve Him in this manner!
Dan’s our Master CNC operator and has been doing it now for eight years. But just having one machine was not enough as he pretty much just sat and watched it run. Well, he now has two so he’s loading and unloading one while the other one is running.
Now keep in mind this guy is 93 years old and he’s a WWII vet with a bum knee. That knee‘s not getting replaced anytime soon, however, because “I’d be laid up for four or five months and I’d go absolutely crazy with nothing to do. Besides, the kids need toys.”
Who’s he kidding? Dan’s the one who needs to make toys. Just like all of us Smilemakers, we want to be doing something worthwhile. So until something really serious comes up, Dan will continue cutting out car bodies so Lorance, whom you’ll hear about later, and the other guys on the chain gang all have their jobs do. The best part is, they’re all self-starters.
Nearly every Saturday morning, early to beat the traffic, Lorance and Rose are at the Denver shop to drop off the cars he’s assembled and pick up new supplies for the coming week. He can’t exactly remember how many years he’s been doing this but he does know he assembles some 750 cars a week. That used to include branding the “USA” on the back but now Bruce or John does most of that. Now, to be honest, Lorance has missed a few Saturdays but he has legitimate excuses. He wears a pain pump that helps him sleep at night and he’s had a number of surgeries and procedures over the 14 years he’s been in the toy business. He will tell you, though, that making toys probably helps alleviate the pain as much as the medicine. We hear that a lot. In fact, we have pretty strong evidence that smile making adds years to our lives. You gotta wonder why everybody isn’t doing it. Lorance heard about Toys for God’s Kids from his younger brother Bernie, but to hear him tell it, God was pretty involved as well. From our perspective, we’re just thrilled Rose gets him out to see us every week.
Joe and Thelma pretty much follow the same routine as Lorance and Rose, only we don’t see them as often. You see Joe likes to make the toy from start to finish. He’s rightfully proud of his work but is glad he doesn’t have to make the wheels anymore.
And Joe, like Dan, is a military vet, an octogenarian, and one or two physical maladies but you wouldn’t know it from him. Thelma may have other thoughts since she sees him a bit more. From our perspective, we’re getting tons of experience and lots and lots of toys.
Well, that’s all for this issue but expect to soon hear more about our world-renowned Smilemakers. We’re thinking of Marv, one of our seven originals, along with John, our Jack of all trades. Finally, we might close it out with Bruce, our “Towney” who is absolutely the nicest guy you’ve ever met but only if he’ll let us take his picture. Stay tuned….