Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Warm Hearts, but Dry Eyes; Chet Davis Doesn't Have to See Kids' Joy at Receiving Authentic Wooden Toys

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Warm Hearts, but Dry Eyes; Chet Davis Doesn't Have to See Kids' Joy at Receiving Authentic Wooden Toys

Article excerpt

Byline: Beth Reese Cravey

Chet Davis figures he has made about 6,000 classic wooden toys - from cars, trains and road graders to doll cradles and mini-irons and ironing boards - in the past five years.

The retired Marine and Bell South manager used to spend his free time bass fishing. But now he spends hours on end in his fully equipped garage wood shop, where he turns blocks of ash, poplar and other wood into finely sanded toys that contain no toxic paints or chemicals, require no batteries and are virtually indestructible.

Then Davis, 69, gives them away.

"I can build pretty close to anything. ... I enjoy it," he said. "That's what I do."

Most of the Davis-made toys - about 1,300 this year - become part of the Jax Woodworkers Club annual Christmas Toy Project. For a couple of decades, members have created and donated thousands of toys to area churches and organizations that serve disadvantaged children. Saturday, the club will have its 2013 "toy transfer" to the agencies for distribution.

Davis, who joined the club about five years ago, is toy chairman. He said club members don't meet the children or witness the distribution. Tears might be shed if they did.

"I get emotional," he said. "Most of these kids have nothing."

Last year, the club's 52 members donated 3,466 toys to 15 agencies. They hope to have about that many this year.

The Sulzbacher Center for the homeless is among the recipients.

"We are so very grateful for the amazing wooden toys that we are blessed with each year by the Jax Woodworkers Club," said Sulzbacher President/CEO Cindy Funkhouser. "Knowing the amount of time and love that are put into each and every toy makes them very special a"

The woodworkers have created about 40,500 toys for needy kids since the club was founded 23 years ago for that sole purpose, said vice president Reid Crawshaw, a retired Air Force pilot, commercial fisherman and sometimes carpenter. …

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