Winter 2020 by Angela Li
AMAZING volunteers overcome COVID adversity
Although this year is coming to an end, toy making is not! The current global pandemic has not stopped 140 volunteers
from continuing to build toys that bring smiles to children who need it most. In living rooms, porches, garages and
kitchens, toys continue to be sanded, painted, and assembled.
Work inside the workshop has not stopped either. Students and adults have been coming to the workshop to drop off and
pick-up toys to work on in the comfort of their homes. In accordance with cautionary health measures, the typical bustle
of the workshop has been reduced to only a skeleton crew: 2-3 volunteers spray painting bright colors onto the toys and 2-
3 people preparing the toys for volunteers to pick up for routing, drilling, sanding and assembling at home. Click here to read the full newsletter.
Summer 2020 by Angela Li
We hope everyone is doing well! In light of the recent turn of events that has forced most of us to stay at home
and in the interest of protecting everyone’s health, the workshop is not fully open for volunteers. However, even
from the comforts of their homes, the Toymakers are still producing toys that will bring someone else a smile.
Over 60 volunteers are currently sanding, painting, priming, and preparing toys from their homes. Volunteers
drive up to shop door by appointment to pick up work from a small on-site shop staff. Click here to read the full newsletter.
Fall 2019 by Bob Helms
Newsflash From ToyMakers of East Lake
It is my honor to introduce to you four outstanding people who are making a huge difference through their service and volunteerism at Toymakers of East Lake.
Madeleine Chicoine Mr. Bob Rath will turn 100 years old September 25. Bob has been in the Toymakers shop making toys and inspiring others to do the same until just a few weeks ago when he suffered a stroke. Following some intensive rehab, Bob moved into HarborChase Assisted Living to continue his recovery. Upon displaying a couple of Toymaker toys in his room, Bob discovered another former Toymaker was also a resident at HarborChase. Both men have a heart for helping others and with the help of Loren’s daughter, Linda and Madeleine Chicoine, director of life enrichment at HarborChase, Bob and Loren are once again active Toymakers. Click here to read the full newsletter.
Fall 2018 by Dan Pearch
ToyMakers’ Open House, Shop Tour, and Silent Auction
In early November, the ToyMakers of East Lake held their fifth annual Open House, with tremendous support from a wide array of sponsors, suppliers, first responders, volunteers, and the community as a whole. The Pinellas County Sherriff’s Office put on an impressive K-9 demonstration, there were a variety of games for kids of all ages, and the food was plentiful. The hundreds of visitors got an early jump on their Christmas shopping, by bidding on the wide assortment of crafts, entertainment, adventures and more, that were offered at the silent auction. Click here to read the full newsletter.
Spring 2018 by Dan Pearch
It often surprises people to learn just how many children in our communities are homeless, poor or receiving long term critical care. While we did not reach all of them, we were able to bring smiles to over 18,000 kids in stressful situations last year.
The ToyMakers of East Lake reach out to the surrounding communities in a number of different ways. The most notable is by providing toys to children who are at a painful or distressed point in their lives. Another is by showing adults, young adults, and even grade school children, the joy to be found in volunteering and the joy of giving to others. Click here to read the full newsletter.
Fall 2017 by Dan Pearch
We are pleased to report that the ToyMakers of East Lake Open House in November was a smashing success! A record number of visitors toured our workshop, the smaller children who attended were thrilled with our hand-made toys and there was lively bidding at our Silent Auction on the hundreds of auction items displayed. We are tremendously grateful to all the Volunteers and product supporters who assisted in making this our best Open House ever!
In late November, the ToyMakers of East Lake made our fourth quarter delivery of 5,839 toys to sick and needy children, including 35 partner hospitals, clinics, and agencies. In total, we delivered over 18,000 toys this year. In addition, by the end of 2017 our bicycle ministry will have provided more than 500 reconditioned bicycles to veteran’s organizations, those with limited incomes and homeless shelters. Click here to read the full newsletter.
Summer 2017 by Dan Pearch
ToyMakers are talented. Don McKerrow has been a long-time ToyMaker who specializes in a unique, non-toy type of woodworking; Intarsia. This medium consists of very precisely cutting out intricate shapes from varying woods of selected colors and grain patterns. These pieces are then meticulously assembled to produce amazing pictures. These works of art have always been very popular at our ToyMakers Silent Auction fund raiser, which takes place in early November.
Then, over three years ago, we were joined at ToyMakers by Matt Harper, a student at East Lake High School. Matt had experience working with a scroll saw, from his family’s home workshop, and expressed an interest in learning how to craft Intarsia. Thus began a special relationship grounded in the love of woodworking, and the sharing of knowledge by a craftsman with an apprentice. Today, Matt produces works that are of such high quality, they are hard to tell apart from Don’s! Although Matt will technically be a Senior in high school this Fall, he will be attending classes at St. Petersburg College, and earning college credits. Click here to read the full newsletter.
Spring 2017 by Dan Pearch
Among the many ToyMakers of East Lake volunteers are three very special men. One of their earliest acts of volunteerism was to serve their country during World War II. Pictured from left to right, Bob Rath, Thad Pollard, and Richard Kopp all served in the US Navy. Today, they continue that tradition of a servant’s heart by cutting, shaping, sanding, and finishing the myriad of simple wooden toys that can end up brightening the day of a distraught child. For those of us who have the privilege to work alongside these three gentlemen, we are truly blessed. Their example of service, even at this stage of their lives, clearly underscores why they have earned the title of The Greatest Generation. Click here to read the full newsletter.
Winter 2016 by Dan Pearch
In September, the ToyMakers of East Lake delivered over 3,000 toys to 19 different clients and agencies. Among these was Sallie House, “a safe haven for children, infant to seventeen years of age, who have been removed from their home because of abuse or neglect, or – even abandonment. Children may stay there as long as needed – for a few hours or several months – until they can be safely reunited with parents, placed with relatives, taken into a foster home, or adopted by a loving family.” When they arrive at this shelter, children often have little more than the clothes on their back. The simple toys furnished by ToyMakers of East Lake can often ease their transition during this emotionally trying time. In December, we delivered another 4,000 toys bringing our 2016 total deliveries to over 14,000 toys – our best year ever! Click here to read the full newsletter.
Summer 2016 by Dan Pearch
Some of our friends are unaware that, as a part of ToyMakers of East Lake, we also operate a bicycle ministry! Most of our bicycle "crew" consists of middle and high school students who are taught and supervised by a core group of experienced adult mechanics. Click here to read the full newsletter.
Spring 2016 by Dan Pearch
Welcome to the inaugural edition of “Toy Stories,” the newsletter of The ToyMakers of East Lake. With your support, our 300 volunteers were able to deliver smiles to 12,000 children in 2015! In February and March of this year, we have delivered 3,026 toys to 17 agencies in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and surrounding counties, plus bicycles to several more organizations. ToyMakers of East Lake has always tried to be good stewards of the environment. When making toy deliveries, we recycle banana and tomato boxes that have been donated by Publix Supermarkets, and thereby avoid the need to separately purchase cartons. Click here to read the full newsletter.