You won’t find any cheap plastic presents in the hands of Wollongong Men’s Shed members in the lead up to Christmas this year.
The men have instead been creating beautifully handcrafted wooden toys for the city’s disadvantaged children.
Since June, members have built presents to donate to Wollongong Council’s Giving Tree Appeal, which ask residents to donate a present for a child aged up to 16 who might go without this Christmas.
The men have found a sense of camaraderie making wooden items each week and they want to give back to the community.
Kevin Blackett said the presents would last longer because they were not made of plastic.
“The kids will love them,” he said
The men created little wheelbarrows, trains, buses, snowmen, Santas, airplanes, doll cribs and more. The group will donate about 40 toys.
Grahame Wunderlich enjoyed painting the wooden toys.
“I like to paint them because it gives me something to do at home,” he said. “I use the colours of football teams usually.”
Mr Wunderlich said it would take the men about one session to make a small wheelbarrow.
The Men's Shed has been busy since June making toys for our annual Giving Tree Appeal. Help spread the Christmas spirit to those in need! @VinniesAust & @anglicare_aust will distribute the gifts 🎁🎄— Wollongong City (@Wollongong_City) November 16, 2018
Our website lists gift drop off locations >> https://t.co/PzM2lVJENMpic.twitter.com/wwnJwhdO8h
The men said they had learnt how to use the carpentry equipment and enjoyed meeting every Friday morning at the Five Islands Secondary College in Port Kembla because the workshop rooms gave them space to work.
Mr Wunderlich said the men were good friends and they were always sharing laughs and jokes.
Mr Blackett encouraged men over 65 years old to join a men’s shed group because it kept their mind’s sharp and bodies physically active.
He said the men were taught how to use the equipment and have made bread boards, cake stands and also repair wooden toys in the past.
Throughout the year, the men accept a small donation for the toys they make or they give them to friends and family. They also donate the products to different charities.
Project officer for the Wollongong Men’s Shed Linda King said the group gave the men a great opportunity to socialise.
A bus picked up the men from their homes, they were provided with morning tea and went on outings throughout the year.
“We have been operating for 10 years and we have about 20 members,” she said.
The group meets on Fridays from 9.30am to 2pm. For more information, visit the council’s website or call 4227 7888.
Wollongong’s St Vincent de Paul Society, Anglicare and SCARF members will help distribute the Giving Tree Appeal gifts.
Unwrapped gifts and gift cards can be left the council’s customer service area and libraries, Figtree Grove and Warrawong Plaza customer service desks, iHub Visitors Information Centre, Novotel Northbeach, Port Kembla Golf Club, The Central at UOW Innovation Campus, WAVE FM Warrawong, Wests Illawarra, Wollongong Central customer service centre desk (Level 1 Crown) and Gift Hut (upper Crown St Mall) until December 17.