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George Pfister Shapes Wood into Special Experiences for Special Children

Above: A “Go-Go Grandmother” demonstrates how an automobile works to a group of African children receiving the handmade toys.

When I moved to Southern California I contacted the Orange County Public Health Nurses, and they continued the distribution of toys to disadvantaged children.

In the course of honing my skills I was approached by the “Go Go Grandmothers”, a group from a local church that had adopted an African village. They asked me if I would make some toy cars for the children in this village. I did so and as you can see from the pictures they did not know what they were. The village is so remote the children had never seen an automobile and an interpreter had to explain what the toys were and where they originated. Most of the clothing in the pictures were brought to the village by the organization of grandmothers.

Below: African children playing with the donated handmade toys.

There are people all over, like John and Cynthia of who have the advantage of modern communication and use it to encourage others.

Then I was made aware that my downs syndrome granddaughter was getting help from an organization in Plainfield, Illinois named Ready Set Ride, that provides horseback riding for a variety of disabled people of all ages.

It was explained to me that the movement (undulation) of the horse induces a calm and balancing effect on the rider. The organization holds an annual auction to raise funds to help support the children whose parents can’t afford the money. So I took it upon myself to donate toys to the auction and was pleased at the response. Guess what? Most of the workers are volunteers. 

I have another granddaughter who is on the autism spectrum attending a special school in
suburban Chicago. It is the Chicago Education Project, headed by Amanda Parker and a staff that I hold in highest regard. I am deeply moved when I experience the wonderful work they did with my granddaughter.

Her mother told me of the auction they have every August and I spoke with Ms. Parker. She told me of the need of these children so that I could try to meet those needs with my toys. So now I split my time between toys for the classrooms and toys for the auction.

Below: Ready-Set-Ride provides George’s granddaughter a pony, a helmet and lots of fun.

I have an advantage in that I work in a shop that has many talented woodworkers who supply me with their cast off pieces that are often a perfect size for toys. I make other things for my family and grandchildren. I have made some small pieces of furniture, bowls, salt and pepper mills, all of which are fun. But nothing gives me more pleasure than making toys. I do not take money for my work as that would diminish my satisfaction.

Below: A Chicago Education Project student plays with wood toy truck made by George. Wood Fire Engine Truck from Easy Weekenders Toy Plans book.

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