17 years ago, a retired couple in Utah started making handmade wooden toys for poor and sick children. The little cars and trucks were received so enthusiastically in the local hospital, a workshop was set up which has since delivered more than 1.1 million toys to kids around the world.
News spread around Cedar City telling of a “Happy Factory” where retired couples could come to laugh and give their time in a collective effort to make kids happy around the globe. Volunteers began showing up every day.
Charles and Donna Cooley, the original founders, soon incorporated as a non-profit and found a local factory to donate scraps of hardwood — leftover kitchen cabinet pieces that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
There are a few expenses for car wheels, saw blades, building maintenance and shipping fees, which add up to around eighty five cents per toy, so the Happy Factory accepts donations on their website.
Designed by Mr Cooley himself, there are 5 types of wooden cars: a jeep, a sedan, a bug, a truck, and a hatchback. The volunteers use jigsaws to cut out the shape. These are then sanded, wheels are attached and the finished product is painted with protective mineral oil.
In the evolution of their toy-making enterprise, the Cooleys have learned that toys are not simply playthings, but tools that help unlock a child’s ability to think and to cope with the world around them. What started as a hobby has turned into a full time labor of love.
There is no shortage of love for any child, so the couple has welcomed juvenile offenders as volunteers.
(WATCH the inspiring video below, from Bus52.com)