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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Woodland Hills

Volunteer Woodworkers Make Toys for Holidays

November 01, 1998|ROBERTO MANZANO

Despite the flying dust and noisy saws in the wood shop Saturday, the workers enjoyed their favorite annual project: making holiday toys for needy children.

"It's fun making stuff out of wood," said Vahid Chitsaz, 17, of Van Nuys. That "stuff" included 180 wooden doll cradles and dump trucks assembled by the San Fernando Valley Woodworkers and other volunteers at El Camino Real High School. About 40 people, donning goggles and aprons, showed up at the school's wood shop to make the toys.

Workers will donate the cradles, with dolls inside, and the trucks in late November. Many of the toys will be given for distribution to the Los Angeles Fire Department and Haven Hills, a West Valley shelter for domestic violence victims, said Bob Rennie, chairman of the woodworkers. An organization that helps Native Americans will also distribute the toys, he said.

This was the sixth year the woodworkers made the holiday gifts. Up until this year, they designed only one toy. "We absolutely lost all sanity because we decided to make two toys," Rennie, 38, of Granada Hills said joking.

The volunteers started preparing for the project in February, when they tossed around ideas about which toys to make.

Except for some prefabricated parts, the workers make most, if not all of the toys, in one day. "The unique thing about this is it's a one-shot deal," Rennie said.

In the past, woodworkers made the toys at Pierce College in Woodland Hills. But when the school closed its woodworking program, the volunteers had to find a new place. Barry Lampke, a wood shop teacher at El Camino Real, secured this year's site.

"We're the dinosaurs. They keep closing us up," said Lampke, 62, of West Hills. Old-fashioned or not, many of the volunteers said they savored not only working with wood, but working together for a good cause.

"Every toy this group makes, that's one more toy a child is going to get for Christmas," said Raul Jordan, 49, of Riverside.

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