Growing up in a house full of tools, a father with skill and a yearning to learn, Emerald Heights’ resident Dale Thompson quickly began to craft an art for working with wood.
“If my dad had the time and knowledge to make or fix something himself, he would do it,” said Thompson. “I learned as a kid that if you want something painted you go out, get some paint and paint it yourself.”
While living in San Francisco in the 90’s with his wife of 50 years, Thompson joined one of the largest wood crafting groups. He spent his time building bookshelves and other items that a growing family would need. He also began to cultivate a passion which would later benefit Seattle community members.
20 years ago, Thompson and his wife made the decision to enter retirement; he left his career of 30 years in engineering at Chevron to spend time with his children’s growing families and enjoy life. This also is the time when he started experimenting with wooden toy making.
When Thompson moved to Emerald Heights one year ago, he discovered the community’s workshop. He had had his own shop for 20 years at home, and thought this is a perfect opportunity to continue his work. After some time of utilizing the shop, he decided to invite other residents to join him and start the Wooden Toys for Charity group. In this group, residents use saws, sanders and other hand tools to create beautiful and unique toys to benefit local organizations.
Nearly 200 wooden cars, trucks, airplanes, tug boats and other toys were created last year and donated to organizations including Seattle Children’s Hospital, YWCA, Ronald McDonald House and Habitat for Humanity’s thrift shop. The group of ten also made hand mirrors and boxes for a local women’s shelter.
“When you retire, a lot of people miss the rush and thrill of working every day,” said Thompson.
The reward that the group feels is described as a win-win situation. “The children receive something that they can enjoy, play with and share and we feel reward for giving them that,” said Thompson