Local toy makers gear up for the holiday season

Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 8:23 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - There are only 95 days left until Christmas. A local toy maker is gearing up early, making wooden toys to ensure all families can have gifts under the Christmas tree.

“Inside is loaded with this hardwood. As it tumbles, these bump against those and that’s what smooths them out.” Toy maker, Roy Ketcheson, spends his time creating trinkets for children who are in need, disadvantaged, homeless, or in a crisis.

Trinkets that Sue Sanford at Ele’s Place said will last a lifetime. “And what I find interesting about the memory boxes is that, kids keep these well into adulthood. Just to show you how much it means to them.”

Nearly 200,000 wooden toys, games, and memory boxes have been produced for the tri-county area for 25 years. On Thursday, the R.J Scheffel Memorial Toy Project held an open house and fundraiser for donors and recipients.

Glen Klco runs the project. “You know that they’re going to people who – or kids that can use them and have fun with them and that’s just part of what keeps us going.”

Klco said all the toys are donated to about 30 local agencies, like the Salvation Army, to satisfy their holiday wish lists.

Nathan Johnson, Major at the Salvation Army said there’s something special about homemade things. “You know, you can go to any store in any town and buy toys, but here you get one-of-a-kind items that are the projects of senior artisans.”

Wooden dinosaurs, fish, and police cars -- gifts that will help kids use their imagination.

“And we have a nice facility here that works out really well for us. Front part is primarily the clean area – where they do the assembling and painting. And the back part behind the door is where they do the cutting and sanding – all the dirty, dusty work,” said Klco.

Building Christmas toys that will last a lifetime.

Registration for Christmas assistance opens online at www.saangeltree.org starting Thursday, October 12, 2023, at 8 a.m. and closes on Monday, November 13, 2023, at 3 p.m. The art will be added to the toys collected by the local Marine Corps and their Toys for Tots program.

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