Toys for underprivileged kids comes from unlikely source - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Toys for underprivileged kids comes from unlikely source

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December 21, 2005

Lee County- A special group of workers approached their boss in September about a project to create toys for underprivileged children this Christmas. They worked ever since to design and built more than 50 toys. Those toys were sent to DEFACS this week.

This is not your typical Santa's workshop, these men not your typical elves. They're putting a lot of imagination into these toys for less fortunate kids in south Georgia.

"I start out with a pattern, trace it onto a piece of scrap wood and then just cut it out with a band saw," said Miles McMillan.

In fact, nothing is typical about these toys designed from what others threw away.

"Pallets that are used for like shipping, of course they're strong, but they're also they're not real polished wood," said Philip Gagnon.

That's where the real work comes in.

"We hone it and clean up the wood and end up with some lumber that we can cut pieces out of," said Gagnon.

"Once I get them all sanded down and ready then I paint them, then their held together with pins or the wheels are held on with axles," said McMillan.

Toys are then painted with child safe paint to give them that extra sparkle.

"What I normally do is try to think of a concept something that would attract a child," said Randy Palmore.

Surprisingly these toys are designed and made by inmates at the Lee State Prison. It's a program that's teaching them a skill and allowing them to give back.

"We utilize the inmates that come in that have a skill, the ability to use that skill and they also teach other inmates the skills whether it be woodworking, electrical repair, small engine or automotive," said Warden Thomas Ammons, Lee State Prison.

Run through the Middle Georgia Technical College, when completed inmates also have a certificate and a skill.

"We don't want them coming through this program and leaving with nothing, we want them coming and leaving with something that going to benefit them once they hit the street again," said Ammons.

These Santa helpers say they're also getting more, a precious gift.

"There are so many kids that are not fortunate and to know that they'll be receiving something that we've made for them is really inspiring," said Palmore.

Inmates also build desks for the facility, repair equipment, and help the prison to work self-sufficiently.

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