'Elves' ready for workshop

19 students have made 21 gifts for area children

Students dressed like elves and the deafening medley of whirring saws and pounding nails pouring from the Moffat County High School's woodshop class can only mean one thing: The annual Santa's workshop is coming soon.

Children of Trapper Mine employees will be treated to handmade toys from junior and senior woodshop students. High school elves have been woodworking with colorful rocking llamas, wooden horses and toy airplanes.

Junior Paysen Hamilton said he's been working on a rocking horse since Thanksgiving, but he doesn't mind the work because it's a chance to give back to the community.

"I hope she's excited," Hamilton said about the little girl who will receive the gift.

Students have been making presents for area children for the past decade. The tradition has come full circle, as some of woodshop teacher Craig Conrad's students remember receiving the wooden gifts when they were children. This year, 19 students have made 21 gifts.

"We've done hundreds and hundreds of toys," Conrad said of the tradition. "It's just a cool thing, and it's a way we can give back to the community."

In other projects, students accept orders and make wood products for profit. The Christmas presents, though, sport a more colorful flair than the standard bookcases, bed frames and other furniture orders. They were painted by art students.

Craig resident Paula Sadvar makes the elves costumes for students, who also wear the costumes around town and school for their annual Hug an Elf Day. Samuelson's True Value in Craig donates wood for the gifts.

"I think this is a lot (more fun) than our regular projects," said senior Matt Guinn. "I look at this and I think, 'Wow, I did that.' I've never done this before, and I'll probably never do it again."

For the second year in a row, senior Scott Garoutte is making a wooden present for a child, but he won't be the one to give it away. This year, he'll be competing at a wrestling tournament, like he was last year at this time. Fortunately, this year he'll be able to watch the child on the brightly-polka dotted rocking lama he made because he's giving it away to a child of a family friend.

"That's probably the best part of it -- seeing the looks on the children's faces when they see the presents," Garoutte said.

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