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Michigan toy shop needs help

In this Wednesday, June 19, 2019 photo, Carol Wade, of Perry, applies a coat of polyurethane to a wooden toy boat at the R.J. Scheffel Memorial Toy Project woodshop in DeWitt Township, Mich. Staffed entirely by volunteers, the organization produces over 9,000 handmade toys throughout the year that are donated to low-income families, children's hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and counseling and grieving centers for kids. (Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal via AP)

By JUDY PUTNAM
Lansing State Journal
AP Member Exchange
DEWITT TOWNSHIP — Volunteers at a pine-dust scented workshop housed in a former appliance store along Old U.S. 27 were busy sawing, sanding, painting and gluing.
The workers call themselves “elves.” Their creations that day were bright yellow ducks on wheels, tiny rocking horses for kids at Head Start and stick horses with smiling faces.
R.J. Scheffel Memorial Toy Project has crafted the old-fashioned items for four decades. The project brings joy and comfort to 9,000 area kids each year.
Now, the shop volunteers say they need help, the Lansing State Journal reported.
Donations and grants are down, and the already low-budget operation is running short on money with just $4,000 in the bank. That’s enough to cover rent and utilities for two months. Volunteers said they’ve already used a $6,000 fund set aside for equipment repairs to meet monthly obligations.
“I’m concerned,” said Peggy McNichol, a CPA and member of the South Lansing Kiwanis Club who volunteers as the group’s treasurer. Last year, funds were down 30% over the previous year, she said.
She said the shop’s annual budget is $37,575, which mostly goes to cover rent and utilities. Scheffel uses donated items but must buy some items, such as 20,000 toy wheels each year. There are no paid employees in the group with a few dozen retirees donating their time three mornings a week.
Most of the fundraising will come at an Aug. 15 open house and during the holidays. The group is actively seeking out grants from foundations.
“I’m very hopeful the community will step up and recognize a valuable project,” McNichol said.