Extreme flooding in several of the counties that comprise our Kansas City-Saint Joseph diocese have devastated towns and farms. Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph is working to provide emergency assistance to those in need. Click here to donate now to support our relief efforts.

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Christmas Shining Star

Crafting Christmas Smiles

“We build smiles.”

That’s how Lee Fox describes the volunteer work he does for Catholic Charities Christmas Shining Star program. Every Tuesday, Lee and a group of fellow toymakers from the Knights of Columbus Council 3414 gather in an out-of-the-way workshop in Gladstone to make Christmas wishes come true. They make wooden toys — including planes, trains, ducks and dolls — so that parents who come to Catholic Charities have something special to give their children on Christmas morning.

“Just being able to imagine the excitement that kids have when they see their toys gives me so much joy,” says fellow toymaker John Hiatt.

Twenty-five years ago, Lee came up with the idea to make toys for children in need. Through the years, his group has had as many as fifteen volunteers and made an estimated 5,000 toys. Now it’s a quartet, still hand-crafting about 500 pieces ready for December delivery to a handful of charities.

“To make someone smile, especially a child who might not otherwise have a new toy, it’s worth all the work,” Lee says.

“It’s good to be an elf.”

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