The Carpenter's Shop brings toys and joy to thousands of children
Seniors at St. Paul UMC in Largo put their woodworking skills to great use and find joy in fellowship in this Fresh Expression.Missions and Outreach
A recent Community Assessment of Older Adults in Pinellas County reported that 37% of them report being bored, and 22% say they lonely and isolated. Many also experienced the loss of a spouse.
To address that issue, St. Paul UMC in Largo looked to a nearby UMC that had closed in 2016.
It was there that the St. Paul church created a Fresh Expression known as The Carpenter's Shop. The Florida Conference gave the church permission to use the closed church's property for this outreach.
|Photos by Brittany Jackson|
Volunteers make wooden toys that first responders and community organizations distribute to children in crises.
Even if a person isn't so great with tools, there are ways to be involved for all skill levels and ages.
People can paint toys, trace patterns, and more.
The St. Paul's Quilting ministry is also involved. Members there make quilts for the toy doll beds.
It's a good way to get volunteer hours for school and scholarships such as Bright Futures. Depending on the offense (no violence or sex offender, etc.), those seeking to satisfy court-ordered community service also can volunteer.
The ministry follows the Child Youth Protection Policy, and volunteers are screened
Distribution assistance comes from the Largo Police Department, Largo Fire Rescue, Marine Cops Toy for Tots, Open Arms, and Metropolitan Ministries. Also, toys were sent on 11 international church mission trips.
Children in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Liberia, and Puerto Rico have received the toys.
While the woodshop ministry has been around for nearly 40 years, toy-making started in 2017 with three members. It has grown to more than 80 volunteers now, with more than 10,000 toys distributed.
Although this is a ministry of St. Paul's, volunteers from other UMC churches are involved, too, including Anona UMC (Largo) and Skycrest UMC (Clearwater).
"With our snowbird population, a lot of people had wood shops up north. Part of the motivation was to give them a place to come," Carpenter's Shop organizer Grant Corrigan said. "Many people are on their own, and this is a way to combat loneliness.
"Woodworking has been a passion of mine for my whole life. Once I retired from nursing, I had the opportunity to do more woodworking. It's a great feeling to be able to do this and give toys to children who wouldn't have them."
The group welcomes anyone with interest in serving, no matter their woodworking skill level. Workers gather Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. – noon. Corrigan said people could come as they can, for as long as they can.
Tools are provided.
"Many of the toymakers have expressed a profound gratitude for this extremely valuable ministry as it has given them a renewed hopefulness and reason to get out of their home and fellowship with others," Corrigan said.
Like all charitable organizations, this one survives totally on donation. Donations can be made at shelbygiving.com/stpaulumc. You will need to select Toy Making in the choose fund dropdown.
Those interested in learning more or volunteering can email email@example.com.
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