Tech Studies project makes toys for tots

Santa’s elves are busy this time of the year, but they will get some help from members of the community and Fort Hays State University students and faculty. Once again it is time for the university's Department of Technology Studies to help the "Teaming Up for Tots" program by making wooden toys.

The department's 21st annual toy day begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 4. The program is designed to spread holiday cheer to local children who may not otherwise receive Christmas presents. "Teaming Up for Tots" brings together community volunteers to assemble approximately 200 wooden toys for children ages 2-6.

The woodshop in Davis Hall, room 150, is set up as an assembly line with jobs varying from drilling, routing and sanding to assembling and finishing. As a result of the job diversity, volunteers of all ages are encouraged to join the festivities; however, an adult supervisor is asked to accompany and supervise child volunteers.

Dr. Duane Renfrow, associate professor of technology studies, is leading the efforts this holiday season. As a component of TECS 130 -- Production Systems, Renfrow uses the bright young minds in his class to help design, set up the assembly line and assemble the toys. This provides his students with an opportunity to apply the theories they learn in the course. Each student applies for a job in the toy making process. Some students draw the design, some set up jigs and fixtures, some run machines, and others are quality control monitors.

Once the parameters of the toy are decided upon by Renfrow, class members bring toy designs to class, where the ideas are brainstormed. Several designs are chosen, and prototypes are made. The prototypes are taken to Dr. Fred Ruda, chair of the department, and he selects which toy will be made. The activity that culminates in the assembly of the toys began many weeks before with the selection process, building jigs and fixtures and preprocessing materials. This year’s featured toy is a car hauler truck, complete with a loading ramp and a small car to haul.

In addition to demonstrating support for local children, this activity unites the community as businesses and individuals make donations and volunteer time to make a difference in the lives of others.

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