Toy Project – Elves of Lansing

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You’re traveling far north, past Canada, through Antarctica and up to a land full of joy and volunteer elves working hard to build toys for disadvantaged children for Christmas. No, it’s not the North Pole and it’s not quite that far north, but the R.J. Scheffel Memorial Toy Project makes visitors feel like that’s where they are. While some are just recovering from Christmas 2010, volunteers at the R.J. Scheffel Memorial Toy are about to begin work for Christmas 2011. Volunteers work Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 8 – 11:30 a.m. beginning Jan. 10. Many of the volunteers are retirees who range from age 60 to one exceptionally loyal man named Clayton Vandecar, who is 99. The R.J. Scheffel Memorial Toy project produces handcrafted, painted wooden toys which go to children who are disadvantaged or in crisis throughout Clinton, Eaton and Ingham Counties. “We work toward a ‘wish list’ provided in January by the Lansing Salvation Army, Ele’s Place of Lansing and Ann Arbor, The Ronald McDonald House, St. Vincent de Paul of Lansing and many others,” says Larry Koster, workshop leader. “Unpainted cars are made for Sparrow Hospital so children can design them.” “My favorite part about this project is that I feel useful. I am a retired school teacher and love being able to do something meaningful for children,” said Shirley Cummings, who has been volunteering at the R.J. Scheffel Memorial Toy Project for nine years. “You don’t have to be very skilled; as long as you enjoy working with your hands you can be helpful.” Anybody can volunteer at the R.J. Scheffel Memorial Toy Project. “It’s a lot of fun painting and assembling toys, every once in a while I get to go back and use the big tools. You don’t have to show up every week and whenever you come in it helps,” said Julia Leslie, who has been volunteering for about three months. “The group goes out to dinner once a month and discusses new ideas for toy projects,” said Donna Schumann, who has been volunteering for about a year. “It really is an amazing group of people who take pride in our toys and try to make them the best quality possible.” “We have a core of men who love doing it, they come up with new toys and techniques all of the time. They are clever and function perfectly together,” says Cummings. “Everyone knows what they need to get done and that’s how we manage to finish more than 9,000 toys throughout the year.” A lot of the wood used is donated. In May, college loft material is collected from the MSU surplus store. In the past, supplies have been donated from places such as Glaser Lumber and Maloney Carpet One. “Monetary donations are also appreciated. All of this money goes towards keeping this place going,” said Koster. “When you contribute to the Capital Area United Way fund, please consider designating your donation to the R.J. Scheffel Memorial Toy Project.” For more information visit: www.scheffel-toys.org 5937 MLK Blvd, Lansing, MI 48909 Just north of Miller Road
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