New spin on old toys

In an era of video games, computers, iPads and cellphones, it’s hard to believe a simple wooden race car or airplane toy would get much attention from kids.

But when a group of first-graders at Margaret R. Brown Elementary School recently was allowed to play with such toys, each child’s face lit up, and their imaginations took over.

The toys were lovingly made by Ruel West of Seymour, a member of the Central Indiana Woodworkers group. The club is made up of men and women who meet once a month in the Indianapolis area to share their interest in woodworking. Some are professionals, while many are just hobbyists.

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Throughout the year, club members make and donate wooden toys to hospitals, The Salvation Army and other organizations in Indiana that work with young children. The goal each year is to donate at least 10,000 handmade wooden toys.

“I love to do it,” West said of making the toys. “I hear people say when they retire, ‘Well, what am I going to do?’ I’ve been retired since Dec. 31, 2004, and I wonder how I have time to work.”

Last year, the club gave out 12,400 toys, West said.

He has been involved with the woodworkers organization for about 17 years.

“All those years, I would go (to meetings) and come back and say, ‘What can I do to get some of these toys to Seymour?’” West said.

He found the answer in the support of another local club he belongs to.

“It dawned on me one evening that I’m in the Lions Club,” he said. “We’re always having programs, so I thought it would be kind of neat if Mick Keller, who is the president of the woodworkers club, would come down and do a presentation about the toys to the Lions Club.”

The woodworkers group furnishes the wheels and axles, and each of the members has to come up with funding for the rest of the wood.

The Seymour Evening Lions Club donated $300 for the…

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