In the fall of 2005, a group of us from Faith Lutheran Church was working on a campaign. The purpose was to reach out to the people in our community.
At the first meeting, I met Lynn Davis, our Communications Coordinator. Discussing various options, she mentioned a new reality show. The show was titled "Three Wishes" and starred Amy Grant. The premise was to go to a city and grant three people their wish.
Wanting to review all our options, I decided to watch the next episode (Little did I know how this would change my life!). That episode was filmed in Cedar City, Utah. The date was November 4, 2005. That night is when I first discovered Charlie and Donna Cooley at The Happy Factory. Their daughter asked Amy for some help to keep the Happy Factory going.
I've always had a heart for kids and I love working with wood. So after the show, with tears on my cheeks, I went to their web site and sent them an email to see if I could help make toys for the needy kids in Las Vegas (Needy kids are not necessarily poor).
In May 2006, I officially became the manager of Happy Factory #34 in Las Vegas, Nevada. My goal was to make 300 – 500 toys a year. The first night we started making toys, we had three people. Bob, Mal and I started making sawdust (They are still with me). It has grown to 50 friends helping when they have time.
My dream of 500 toys has surpassed 250,000 toys in 9.5 years. Check out the places toys have been delivered — toy deliveries.
Effective March 1, 2010, we decided to form our own Las Vegas based company and established the Toys 4 Smiles Foundation. Same people, toys and goals. Just a new name. We are the only non-profit organization in Las Vegas that manufactures the items we donate to our clients.
Thanks to God, my wife Mary, Faith Lutheran Church, Charlie and Donna, my life will forever be filled with joy.
I’ve always had a heart for kids and I love working with wood.