A toy story

Moffat County High School woodshop students to present handcrafted toys to children

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Dillon Guinn sees making toys as his way of contributing to his town.

"It's giving back to the community, and I think these days, we need to," Guinn said.

The Moffat County High School junior is one of 24 upperclassmen at school creating wood toys from scratch to give to area children.

"It's not like community service we have to do," said Jaime Montes, a Moffat County High School senior. "It's something we want to do. It's just fun. It's like nothing else anyone's ever done."

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, the students will present their toys -- tractors, rocking animals and airplanes -- to youths whose parents work at the high school or Murdoch's Ranch & Home Supply, or to whom the students know personally.

"It's cool to see the kids freak out and be happy to have something different," Montes said.

Woodshop teacher Craig Conrad has led the holiday project for 18 years. He said the idea started one day as he watched students hard at work.

"I made a comment, 'You guys look like a bunch of busy little elves,'" Conrad said.

And the idea was born.

The teens creating the toys are third- and fourth-year woodshop students. They have been working on the projects since the end of October.

"A lot of them have put in time on their own at home, too," Conrad said.

Many students make one toy; others have taken on two projects. Samuelson True Value Hardware and Lumber donates the wood.

This year, woodshop students are teaming up with art students for the painting portion of the project.

Conrad said the project began as a way for his students to use their skills to give to others during the holiday season. The project has since become a rewarding experience for the teacher, as well.

"They say there are three stages to a man's life -- he believes in Santa Claus, he doesn't believe in Santa Claus, he is Santa Claus," Conrad said. "I get to see (my students) become men in this whole thing."

And the process has come full circle, Conrad said. Some students who received woodshop toys as children now are the ones making them. Those stories are what make his teaching experience worthwhile.

"I'd like to think in some ways it's made the town better," Conrad said.

Michelle Perry can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or mperry@craigdailypress.com.

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