Tech Studies project at FHSU makes toys for Ellis County children

Christmas is rapidly approaching, and 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. The university's Institute of Applied Technology once again will assist with the Teaming Up For Tots program by making wooden toys.

The Institute's 24th annual toy day begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 7. 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 250 wooden toys for children ages 2 to 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 effort this year. As a component of his production systems class, 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 designs, some set up jigs and fixtures, some run machines and others are quality-control monitors.

"Dr. Fred Ruda had always headed up the project," said Renfrow. "With his untimely death, we are dedicating this activity to him for his dedication to this activity."

Once Renfrow decides on the parameters of the toy, class members bring designs to class for brainstorming. Several designs are chosen, and prototypes are made.

The activity that culminates in the assembly of the toys begins many weeks before with the selection process, building jigs and fixtures, and preprocessing materials. This year’s featured toy is a four-wheel tractor.

In addition to demonstrating support for local children, this activity unites the community as businesses and individuals make donations and volunteer time.

"We invite members of the public who wish to donate time to come help assemble the toys," said Renfrow. "All ages are welcome, but children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult."

Around 30 to 40 volunteers are needed. Jobs include sanding, running parts from station to station, drilling holes, attaching parts and finishing.

For more information or to volunteer, contact the Institute of Applied Technology at 785-628-4211.

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