I sent an e-mail to the published of the Seaford Star newspaper asking if he could provide a copy of the newspaper article so that I could post it here. Here is blog ! where I mentioned that an article was created. Blog #1
This is a blog on the giveaway day that the author of the article was present for. Giveaway day blog
The publisher sent it to me. This is missing the pictures of course.
Delmar woodworkers bring Christmas to kids
By James Diehl
There were no Christmas carols being sung, no reindeer milling about, and no jolly old man with a belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly on the premises. But the home of the late Irv Aydelotte sure did seem a whole lot like Santa’s Workshop in early December.
The culmination of a year’s worth of work, the Mason-Dixon Woodworkers Association chose Dec. 1 as the day to play Santa’s elves, giving away toys they spent the last 12 months assembling at their workshop in Delmar.
It’s the 13th year the organization has handed out toys to area charities, who then use them to brighten the lives of needy families at Christmas time.
“We’re just interested in making toys for children who may not have any for Christmas otherwise,” said club member Donald Connell, who is in charge of this year’s toy drive. “We make them and distribute them so they get to the right people.”
More than 1,000 handmade toys were handed out this year by the club to about 20 local charities. Among the 2007 offerings were cars, trains, baby cradles, rocking dinosaurs, coloring book holders, and toy lawnmowers.
Crafted by the more than 50 members of the Mason-Dixon Woodworkers Association, each piece is handmade from beginning to end with one purpose Ð to provide children with a special present under the tree on Christmas morning.
Representatives from charitable organizations who descended on the club’s workshop in Delmar each had their choice from among the multitude of toys on display.
Among them was Bob Kripaitis, who was picking up toys on behalf of the Seaford Kiwanis Club.
“We’ve been coming here for years and I think what they do here is really fantastic,” Kripaitis said. “We give all the toys to Seaford Charities, who has all the information about who needs help in Seaford and can distribute them.”
Each year, the club tries to come up with new items not available during the previous holiday season. This year, woodworker Karson Morrison, from Bridgeville, took the initiative to build 100 wooden caterpillars.
In actuality, he built 105 which, put together, totaled more than 10,000 pieces of wood.
“I saw them in a magazine and I just thought they looked cute,” Morrison said. “They looked liked something a kid would enjoy, because kids like things that make noise or that they can pull around. And it has bright colors.”
“It’s one of those toys that I wouldn’t make at home because it would take too much time, but it was fun to make here in the workshop. I even took one home for my own grandkids.”
The club tries to make 100 of each item offered in a particular year, including the baby cradles made for this holiday season.
But the baby dolls inside those cradles need something to cover up with, which is where Betty Staats comes in. Staats made quilts, mattresses and pillows for each one of the 100 displayed cradles. But she says it was no big deal she had lots of time to work from her home. “I just work on them through the year, usually while my husband’s watching television,” said Staats, who also works in the woodshop. “I just do [the woodworking] for fun because I love to work with the wood.”
Irv Aydelotte was a member of the woodworker’s club, but actually started the toy campaign on his own two years before the association became involved in the project. “Irv became a member of the woodworkers and the toys are now a spinoff of the club,” said Aydelotte’s widow, Doris, who still allows the association to use her husband’s old workshop at their Delmar property.
Members of the club, while admitting they love helping out area children during the holiday season, also think of their organization as a bit of a fellowship group. They meet every Wednesday through the year at the shop. They eat lunch, have a few laughs, and teach the art of woodworking to anyone who wants to learn.
“We love making toys to give to charity, but most of the people who do this are retired senior citizens and doing this is a big form of fellowship for us,” said club member Bill Jefferson, from Bridgeville. “We fellowship and have a lot of fun here on Wednesdays.”
Whatever the reason for the club, the number of people helped by the woodworkers has certainly numbered in the thousands over the last 13 years. “I don’t think I could adequately explain how much help these folks have been to us,” said Barry Devine, the pastor at First Baptist Church in Delmar, who was picking up toys for his church’s holiday giving campaign. “We’ve been able to do so much more for the families that we help than we could have done without their help. They’re truly just like Santa Claus.”
The holiday toy campaign was Irv Aydelotte’s pride and joy and that commitment was a major reason why Doris Aydelotte has allowed the program to continue on her property after her husband’s passing a couple of years ago. “My husband told one of our daughters that he hoped I would continue to let the woodworkers come here after he passed,” Doris Aydelotte said. “Making toys was one of his favorite things to do. He just liked making them and giving them to kids, though he didn’t give them directly.”
The woodworkers club does all the work for their holiday toy campaign, but they are aided financially, and with donations of supplies, by several organizations throughout the area. They couldn’t produce toys on the scale they do without such help. “I kind of feel like Santa Claus, but I also think that the people who make the donations to us should feel like Santa too,” Connell said.
The Mason-Dixon Woodworkers Association accepts donations throughout the year and also works with the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of Sussex County. To learn more about the club, or to donate to their cause, call Connell at 000-000-0000 or RSVP at 856-5815.
(Don’s phone number removed by me.)
-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia firstname.lastname@example.org †