Seniors’ workshop turns out hundreds of wooden toys for kids in need

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HUNTLEY, Ill. — It's not Santa's workshop, but a group of seniors are giving the big man a run for his money.

"14 years ago we came up with the idea of making toys for the needy... never dreaming it would become what it is today," Al Lapelusa said.

That first year a handful of sun city seniors cut, sanded and pieced together 10 handcrafted wooden toys. Today, that same shop is filled with nearly 70 seniors, producing hundreds of toys.

They proudly call themselves, "The Wood Chucks."

"I came in here as a greenie," Karleen Kimberlin-Kurtz said. "I knew absolutely nothing and the fellas taught me everything. Now I'm building all kinds of things with wood."

For them it's more than just learning a new skill, it's about making sure every child gets something under the tree for Christmas.

"Knowing that this toy will be played with by a young child, changes everything," Jim Vitte said. "The feel of real wood versus plastic makes these toys really special."

This morning the Sun City Wood Chucks delivered hundreds of those hand made toys to the Grafton Food Pantry, where they will be distributed to families along with food for the holidays.

"It brings great joy to the children to open a gift that was made just for them," said Harriet Ford of the Grafton Food Pantry.

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