Bend seniors become Christmas toymakers

Group at Touchmark makes wooden toys

Santa's senior helpers make special toys

BEND, Ore. - You can call them Santa's elves -- or you can just call them seniors becoming kids again.

Either way, inside the shop at the Touchmark Retirement Community Center in Bend -- when it's time to work, it's time to work.

"They call and tell us to be down there at 9 a.m. on Monday and we are down here at 9 am," said Bob Kohl, a Touchmark resident.

Saws whirl and sanders hum as nearly 30 seniors create handmade toys for kids in need.

"It's nice to know we can supply a few Christmas presents for the children," Kohl said. "It's just been fun monkeying around and the camaraderie with all of us."

For the past month, the crafters have been working  2-3 hours a day, three days a week, creating handcrafted wooden doll cribs and wagons from scratch.

A few of the ladies spend the time painting, sewing and knitting quilts to go with the cribs.

"It's nice to know that at our age, we can still do some of these things," Kohl added.

Once shaped and sanded, the toys will be donated to the KIDS Center and the Mountain Star Family Relief Nursery.

The experience has become a sort of "sawdust therapy," and even though they realize toys are replaceable, it's all for the sake of handmade happiness -- and that's what's irreplaceable and timeless.

"Knowing that the output is going to be some happy kids, that's pretty neat," said Touchmark resident Don Kiser.

All the wood was donated by Miller Lumber, Connolly Wood Products and Building Solutions.

The handmade toys should all be finished and wrapped by Dec. 8 and distributed to all the kids soon thereafter.

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