I heard about a place in Warren County that makes toys for boys and girls throughout the area and distributes them just in time for Christmas. Well, I'm in the holiday spirit and I can't wait to take a visit.

I arrived at the Toy Shoppe.  Volunteers have been coming here since 1999 to make wonderful toys for kids. Pat Williams is the volunteer coordinator. He says the organization was founded by four retired gentlemen who wanted to spread joy at Christmas.

"The goal was to make a thousand toys a year and distribute these toys at no charge to disadvantaged kids,” says Pat.

The Toy Shoppe has meant a great deal to families in Warren County throughout the years.  The wooden toys made here are works of art and made with loving care.  They are all made by 38 volunteers, all retirees, who show up Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings to cut out the parts, assemble them together, and then paint the finished product.

"Everybody does quality work,” says Pat. “They all take ownership of what they do.  But the painters make things really pop and really look fantastic and enticing for the children."

How cherished is the Toy Shoppe?  Warren State Hospital has donated the building. Warren County government supplies a public grant. The Cummins plant in Jamestown provides a generous private grant.

"We have to, first of all, buy the wood.  We use thousands of board feet of wood each year to build these toys,” says Pat.

My visit is the same day that a delivery is being made by some of the volunteers.  Boxes of toys are being dropped off at Youngsville Elementary School for a Giving Tree program. The school is happy to receive the gifts. Laura Bierbower is the school counselor:  

"Toys from the Toy Shoppe are just incredibly unique,” she says.  “The craftsmanship and the detail that they put into it is just incredible. They're definitely way better than any toy that you could buy off the shelf."

This is also a day when the volunteers can see the happiness created by their work. Earlier in the year, the Toy Shoppe donated toys to area kindergarten classes to use during recess.  The toys include a shopping cart with little wooden fruit and vegetables. They also include a school bus with little wooden students and a tool box with little wooden tools.

"The group is starting to get out and starting to see the importance of their work…how much these kids love these things,” says Pat.   

It's heartwarming to see the happiness these toys create. I am leaving the school with a smile on my face. Take me back to the shop!  Put me to work!  I want to spread this Christmas joy!

The Toy Shoppe is looking for more volunteers to do woodworking and painting.  Contact Pat Williams at 814-726-1641.  Pat says the organization has made and distributed approximately 30,000 toys since it was founded almost 25 years ago.