I always love this time of year, not only because of the Christmas holidays and New Year fun, but also this is the time of year that my woodturning club gets busiest with their charity events.
We generally start on Veteran’s Day by supporting Woodcraft’s program of Turn for the Troops. I’ve been doing it for quite a few years and it’s always fun to take people who have never seen a lathe up close before and teach them to produce a beautiful pen. The people, both young and old, get a real sense of accomplishment as well as feeling good that they have done some small part to help out the troops.
We had a number of father/child pairings this year and the kid’s loved the process so much that some came back the next day to turn another or begged Dad to buy another kit so that they could turn a pen for themselves.
One thing I like is that young girls jump in just a readily as the boys. I always hope that this brief exposure to making something “sticks”. So many kids never even try to use some tools to make something on their own.
Our efforts at Safe Harbor, the Maritime Academy for Boys, has also been very rewarding this year. We were on hiatus until May this year so that the boys could get some extra maritime training. When we started up again we had a whole new crop of boys. After a week of basics the boys decided that they would also like to participate in the Festival of Trees project like the boys did last year. Since we were getting a late start this year, we used making ornaments as their training exercises.
We also had quite a bit of turnover in the group of boys participating, but they all worked hard making birdhouses, tops, Christmas trees, angels and on and on. From May through October the boys worked every week, with many volunteers from the Northeast Florida Woodturners Association to create over 100 ornaments. These ornaments, plus another 40 from the club members filled the tree displayed at the World Golf Village.
If that wasn’t enough to put one in the Christmas spirit, it was time for Santa’s Helper, Mark Wood, and I to head to Nemours Childrens Clinic to handout handmade wooden toys, again donated by the Northeast Florida Woodturners. Lot’s of toy cars and trucks, Harry Potter wands, spin tops and cute animals were given out to the kids.
Unfortunately we’re not allowed to take pictures of the kids, but their parents were, so Santa’s lap got a pretty good workout. It is truly rewarding to see how precious these toys are to the kid’s and how thrilled they are to by up close and personal with Santa.
I even took the last two dozen toys left over with me to Artwalk, still dressed as Santa and gave out toys to the kids downtown with their parents.
Thanks to all the hard work of the club members and helpers like Mark and the folks that volunteer at Safe Harbor and help with Turn for the Troops. Their contributions of time and talent make this the best time of year.
I\The Turning Arts Groups wishes everybody a wonderful Holiday Season and Merry Christmas.