Making a difference one toy at a time

David and Julie Martin make magic.

They both have full-time jobs but have the flexibility to work from anywhere. So, they split their time between Twin Lakes, WI, and a community in Florida.

“While in Florida, I volunteer at a non-profit organization called Toy Makers of East Lake,” explained David. “We make wooden toys for children who are sick, needy or in stressful situations. All the toys are on wheels to provide control over something when their lives may feel out of control.”

More than 100 volunteers, mostly seniors, produce and donate 20,000 toys each year through Toy Makers of East Lake.

“The group not only provides a service to the recipients of the toys, but also a purpose for volunteers who may be looking for something meaningful to do with their time,” said David.

When the couple was on their way back to Wisconsin in 2019, David told Julie how much he missed making the toys.

“I suggested starting our own group in Twin Lakes,” recalled Julie. “So, we bought equipment with some of our savings and generous donations from others and started making toys.”

David manages the woodworking, while Julie handles the painting and organizing. Their family, friends and neighbors pitch in too.  

“We call our group ‘Twin Lakes Toy Makers’ in hopes of turning it over to the community someday,” said David. “Of course, we’d need a new location at that point since our garage can only hold so much.”

They donate the toys to different community organizations, including the Twin Lakes Police department, who they exclusively make police cars for, and Aurora Medical Center – Burlington. In October, David and Julie donated 80 toy cars for patients at the hospital. It was their largest donation yet. 

“As much as we make the toys for children, I think they also serve a broader purpose,” shared Julie. “One recipient was a woman with Down syndrome. Her sister-in-law wrote us to tell us how much it helped calm her while she was at the hospital.”

How you can help

There are many ways to give back and support patients and families in our community. To learn more, visit us online or contact Jennifer Stephens at jennifer.stephens@aah.org

Team members were delighted to accept a donation of 80 handmade toys from Twin Lakes Toy Makers.

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