Photos courtesy of PVN woodworking group.

A local group of seniors started constructing their contributions to the Hobby Crafters toy drive earlier this summer.

Hobby Crafters is a foundation of volunteers that strives to provide free handmade wooden toys for more than 6,000 underprivileged children during the holidays. They have done so for 75 years. Knowing it would take them several months to create hundreds of handmade wooden toys, residents of Presbyterian Village North (PVN), a nonprofit senior living community in Dallas, set to work when the days were long and warm.

Bill Austin, who lives at PVN, contributed to the drive for many years before suggesting that fellow residents in the PVN Residents Woodworking Shop contribute to the drive too. When he presented the idea, several people at the community expressed interest in being involved. He then collaborated with Joe Brockette, a resident of PVN who coordinated the new woodworking shop project, to determine which toys the group would collectively make when they met on Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon.

After several months of hard work, the group is donating nearly 400 toys that will go to children in need in Dallas this holiday season.

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“Giving back is the right thing to do, and it is extremely rewarding when you know the end result is a smile on a child’s face,” Austin said. “After we make a batch of toys, there is another group at PVN that paints and finishes each toy. In the past, I have also made cradles for baby dolls and a group of women at my church decorated them and made dolls to place inside. It’s a wonderful feeling coming together to make a difference in the lives of children.”

The group made several toys including regular trucks and cars, ambulances, firetrucks, police cars, and Austin’s personal favorite – high-wing airplanes.