Randolph Volunteers Make Toys For Children In Need

When Dick Hall was featured on this page in September 2002, he and his wife were volunteering as work campers while living in a 32-foot fifth wheel. He doesn’t do nearly as much cooking and baking today as he did back then.

Dick Hall’s story has changed a bit since Sept. 28, 2002, when he was last featured on this page. At that time, he and his wife, Earlyn, were work campers residing in a 32-foot fifth wheel camper. Work campers are not paid but receive free lot space in the campground in which they volunteer. The couple no longer participates in a work camp program and does not reside in a fifth wheel. Their winters are spent with their son in Zephyrhills, Florida, and at their daughter’s Randolph home during mild weather.

He admits he does not cook as often anymore, “with the exception of making a hot sandwich in the sandwich maker,” but still makes his daughter’s favorite Chicken Piccata for special occasions and an occasional apple pie. Hall’s version of apple pie is different than most, as is noted in the recipe. He chops the apples, rather than slices them. He confesses to adding five or six slices of butter before setting the top crust on the pie, “especially if my wife isn’t watching.”

He enjoys various activities, including playing a card game called Hand and Foot and woodcarving and volunteers as a greeter at New Walk Church in Zephyrhills and East Randolph United Methodist Church. A new hobby was found eleven years ago; that soon became a passion. While wintering in Florida, he worked with a group of men who were making toys to donate to patients at a children’s hospital.

“They said ‘if you’re going up north for the summer, why don’t you start them there,'” he explained.

When he returned to New York, he began making toys with the help of his wife in his East Randolph garage, using patterns from and basing them on the ones he had made in Florida. They continued to work from their garage until one day when they were at a local restaurant having a conversation with the late Cliff Dunstan, who offered the use of the woodworking shop he was no longer using. The couple worked out of the shop for the next eight years, even after Dunstan had passed away.

“In the meantime, we bought our own equipment with donated money,” he says.

The project moved and the equipment was set up in the former CSI plant on Randolph’s Center Street, where owner Herm Ruhlman kindly donated space, but due to unforeseen circumstances, the Toymakers had to vacate that property last fall. The equipment has been stored in a building belonging to Judy Stevens. A large group of volunteers are ready to get started again but have no place from which to work. They do not have funds to pay rent, but if necessary may be able to help with the cost of electricity.

“Basically, we need a space that’s 20 feet by 30 feet, preferably with 220 wiring, so we can run our dust collecting unit, and with a solid floor. We’d like it as close to Randolph as possible,” says the leader of the group. “We are working under Randolph Area Community Development’s 501(c)(3), so any contribution to us is tax deductible.”

The nonprofit group of volunteers gives the simple wooden toys to local children with needs and sends them with mission groups.

“We have them in 10 countries that we know of,” says the leader of the group. “We’ve sent them to church for Vacation Bible School and for the Angel Tree, to libraries for summer reading program prizes and Santa and Mrs. Claus passed them out at a Cattaraugus Community Action Christmas party which was held in Salamanca. We do baskets full of toys to be auctioned at various benefits where the proceeds go to cover medical expenses. We don’t sell toys. We’ve never sold a toy.”

“We’re making an average of about 2,800 toys in a 5 1/2 month period. They are all hand-painted with lead-free safe finishes, no metal, everything is wood,” Hall said.

“We’ve had a lot of smiling kids. I hate to let them down,” he continued. “Last summer we worked five to six days per week. We’ve got some fantastic volunteers. They come from Cattaraugus, Salamanca, Frewsburg, Kennedy and Randolph. We’ve even had some kids as young as seven come in with their grandparents. They realize they are painting a toy for kids who may never have had a new toy.”

“Gene and Yvonne Boe have been real helpful. Since we got in the big shop, Gene worked every day. I’ve had people that came in to help us say they’d never be doing this had they not met us,” he says. “Cummins Engine Plant has given us support for the last three years. Their employees have painted toys to give to their charities.”

Following are 10 steps Randolph Toymakers use to create their toys:

1. Plane wood to desired thickness

2. Trace pattern

3. Cut pieces on a band saw

4. Drill holes to connect axles and airplane wings and for windows

5. Sand on flat sander

6. Round edges on flap sander

7. Apply paint

8. Add wheels, smokestacks, steering wheels, etc.

9. Paint details

10. Paint clear coat finish

“And man, we have some great detail-painters. I look back at the ones Lyn and I painted years ago and these are nothing like them,” he says. “I add most of the extra parts, such as wheels, as it one of the least desired steps. One of our biggest expenses is (the purchase of) wheels.”

Dick Hall was named 2008 Volunteer of the Year by Cattaraugus County Community Action.

The Halls’ son-in-law, Triathlete and Coach Mark Wilson, organizes Randolph Toymakers Annual 5K FUNdraisers, which will be held this year on July 28 at 8 a.m. at 26 Center St. in Randolph.

A selection of the toys is available at R & M Restaurant at Exit 16 of I-86. Anyone wishing to donate space to Randolph Toymakers for this worthwhile project, donate wood, supplies or money or wishing to volunteer, is asked to contact Hall at 941-228-4919 or Tonia Wilson at 353-1288. For information on 5 K FUNdraiser go to coachmarkwilson.com/races-and-events.

GRAM’S STRATA

1 lb pork sausage, browned

6 oz bread, cubed

2 c cheddar cheese, shredded

6 eggs

2 c milk

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground dry mustard

Combine ingredients. Spoon into a lightly greased 8” x 10″ dish. Refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

APPLE BREAD

3 c flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp soda

1 tsp salt

3 eggs

1 c oil

2 c sugar

1 tsp vanilla

3 c apples, diced

1 c walnuts, chopped

In a large bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, soda and salt. Add eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla and combine well. Fold in apples and nuts. Baked in two greased loaf pans at 325 degrees for 1 hour or until it tests done.

CHICKEN PICCATA

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Flour

¢ tsp salt

¢ tsp pepper

™ tsp cayenne pepper

1 onion, very finely chopped

2 T capers, chopped

2 T olive oil

2/3 c dry white wine

4 lemons, halved

3 T butter

Pound the chicken breasts until they are about ™-inch thick. Combine enough flour for coating chicken with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Dredge chicken. Heat olive oil in non-stick frying pan. Add onion. Caramelize, remove and set aside. In same frying pan, melt butter. Add 2-3 dredged chicken breasts. Over high heat, brown on both sides until cooked through. Squeeze in juice of two lemons with each set of chicken breasts. After all chicken has been cooked, reduce heat. Add wine, juice of remaining lemon, onions, capers and chicken and warm through.

APPLE PIE

Enough chopped (not sliced) Granny Smith apples to fill a pie tin

1-1™ c sugar

Cinnamon

Dash nutmeg

2 T flour

¢ tsp lemon juice

Butter

In a medium bowl, add apples after they have been chopped into small pieces. Stir in enough cinnamon to make apples quite dark. Add sugar and then taste. Adjust sugar or cinnamon amounts if needed. Stir in nutmeg, flour and lemon juice. Pour into pie shell. Top with slices of butter. Adjust top crust and crimp before baking at 425 degrees for ¢ hour. Reduce heat to 350 and continue baking for 15-20 minutes more.

BARBECUE BEEF

SANDWICHES

3 lb rolled rump roast

15 oz tomato sauce

¢ c onion, chopped

1/3 c brown sugar, packed

2 T lemon juice

3 beef bouillon cubes

1¢ tsp chili powder

Garlic, salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp dry mustard

Coat meat with flour. Put meat in slow cooker with the rest of ingredients. Cook 6-8 hours. Serve on rolls.

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