In Desert Hot Springs, California, lives 72-year-old Mike Sullivan and his wife Judy Sullivan. Mike is an Army veteran of 26 years, and he developed a hobby after retirement. “After retirement, I got bored and needed something to do,” Mike Sullivan said. That is how the two of them have found themselves spending most of the last decade in a woodshop behind their house.
The couple joined a woodworking club seven years ago and one of their projects was to build toys for kids around Christmas time. “Christmas time, we had a chance to see the kids get the toys and see how much joy it was,” said Sullivan. That turned it into a mission to give away their handmade toys to parents and their children.
Nearly every day they head into the shop and get to work. “We’re both in good health and are able to be out here six to seven days a week for eight to 10 hours,” Sullivan said. “It’s so much fun, it feels like home here in the shop working things out.”
Mike says they spend six or seven days a week for eight or ten hours. It’s not just work, it’s fun for them. Mike says it feels like home in the shop working things out. This year the 1,400 toys they made to give away were especially appreciated with so many more parents out of work because of the pandemic.
It truly is a family affair, Mike buys the lumber, the drill bits and saws and makes the patterns, cutting and sanding away.
Judy is quality control and decorator. “I run my hands over all the toys and feel for something that’s not supposed to be there — a loose wheel or splinter,” said Judy. She also spray paints and decorates. “The designs sort of come up in my head when I see the toys,” the 71-year-old said.
Couple’s 15 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren are toy testers. “All my kids and grandkids and great-grandkids get my toys,” said Mike Sullivan. “They’re constantly coming by the shop and toys just disappear with the kids. “Judy Sullivan said they watch them play with the toys and see what they like and don’t like about them. “If they drop a toy on the floor and break the head of a duck, we better reinforce that.”
They give away most of their toys out front of their home and made sure to schedule people in intervals for safety. “We try to enforce safe distancing and masking,” said Mike.
But they also delivered hundreds of toys to a kindergarten class, the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission, and a church food pantry. They also ship toys at their own expense; “As long as I can afford it, I can send them where I can,” he said. To assist with that and with their kids’ encouragement, they started a GoFundMe to help. Mike hopes anyone who wants a Christmas present next year will reach out to him, and he’ll do his best to get it to them, wherever they are.
This kindness has made them your Good News Story of the Day which you can find in full here. Because of this family, California may have its own Santa’s workshop, or if you ask Judy, “we’re a couple of old grandmas and grandpas doing what we do best,” Adding, “that’s all there is to it.”
Story and Image from CNN.