Emerald Heights 3, Brighter Side

Residents at one Washington life plan community are a regular bunch of Santa’s little helpers.

A group of crafters at Emerald Heights, calling themselves the “Wooden Toys for Charity,” used saws and sanders to create hundreds of playthings, ranging from doll cribs to airplanes, dinosaurs, cars and tug boats. It’s the fifth year for the program, with this year producing more than 700 toys to be donated to several Seattle-area charities.

Dale Thompson, a resident of the Redmond, WA, home and member of the club, says he loves seeing such old-fashioned items in a time when so many kids’ faces are glued to glowing screens.

“I am a great fan of wooden blocks because they require imagination to see them as spaceships, cows or books,” Thompson says. “What’s even better is their batteries never go dead.”

Since its start in 2014, Wooden Toys for Charity has donated more than 2,300 toys to children, with recipients including the Seattle Children’s Hospital, the Ronald McDonald House and Mary’s Place. Canyon Creek Cabinet Company pitches in each year by donating five pallets of wood to craft the toys.