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How 1M Small Blocks of Wood Have Changed Lives

Tiny Tim's has given away 1M handcrafted toy cars to kids in need around the world
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2018 4:47 PM CST

(Newser) – Alton Thacker's toy factory made its millionth toy car this year—and it has given away every single one of those cars. Tiny Tim's Toy Foundation, founded more than a decade ago in Utah, produces and distributes small wooden cars to children in need around the world. Some of those kids are sick in hospitals, others are living in a tough neighborhood, still others are impoverished in a developing country, but they all react similarly when given the wooden toys: "Kids will drop to the floor and start ‘driving’ them on the concrete, the tile, the dirt," a retired teacher who drives 60 miles round-trip once a week to volunteer at the factory tells the Washington Post. "The response of pure joy is always the same." Thacker and his wife, both 83, came up with the idea for the foundation when he and his wife used to dress up as Santa and Mrs. Claus and distribute toys to kids in Mexico.

The wood is donated and the factory's rent is paid by a benefactor. In addition to volunteers—mostly retirees, with an average age of 80—Thacker and his wife get help producing the cars from groups like churches, Boy Scout troops, and civic organizations. Most of the cars are painted by inmates at a Utah correctional facility, and the volunteer who spoke to the Post says many of them are moved to the point of tears by the chance to help others. The toys are then distributed by charities, churches, children's hospitals, and even long-haul truckers who stop by the factory to pick up a box, dropping off its contents along their routes. Thacker tells the Post he and his wife "both knew the important role toys played in helping little minds to grow. ... For some kids around the world, one of our little wooden cars is the first and only toy they'll ever get." Read the full story here. (Read more uplifting news stories.)

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