Who doesn't want to visit a place called The Happy Factory? I know that I did! And as part of work, I was able to go and see all the reasons that it is called the Happy Factory.
It has been a journey and a beautiful story of how I became involved with the Happy Factory. I needed a simple gift for some children for Christmas and I saw this small wooden car on a colleague's desk that was stamped HAPPY FACTORY on the bottom. I googled the place and was shocked to find out that it is located in Cedar City, UT!
I called and spoke with Donna, the co-founder of the Happy Factory. Donna and her late husband started the Happy Factory after they retired with the idea that every child should have a toy. That goal has grown into a full on operation that exists on the generosity of time and resources by volunteers. After I told Donna what I was doing and asked if I could buy a few toys she instantly said that they do not sell them, "the toys are made from love for children who need them." She sent me what I needed for the family and after a few months of trying to make it, I was finally able to visit Donna and the Happy Factory.
It is set in an industrial area West of Cedar City and looks like any normal warehouse. But walking into the door brings the attention of several smiling faces volunteering their time to help children they may never see.
Donna was so kind to take me on a tour explaining the multi-step process taken to create the toy cars. She was humble about the founding of the Happy Factory several years ago and how it has grown over the years literally at the hands of those who serve. She was generous in her comments on how it truly wasn't her or her husband that made Happy Factory a success, it was those who donate money to the cause and those who donate time to make it a reality.
|Cranes built to be therapy toys in Special Ed rooms|
|A big table waiting for hands to come and help|
|"Paint and auto-body" Putting on the oil coating|
She gave me a tour through the small photo gallery with some notable people who had come to donate time and talents to the cause. She also had a collection of photos from children all over the world who have received a toy. Including some hands of the thousands of children who receive toys in inner city Los Angeles. Some of these children the simple wooden toy covered in a light oil is the only toy they will ever have. And each one of them is made with love.
I sat and chatted with each of the volunteers there that day. Some come regularly as couples and friends to chat and serve. Others were new that day but pitched right in and helped. I was really impressed with all of the Southern Utah University students who were there volunteering their precious college-age time.
|Self proclaimed "Mechanic Shop" putting on the wheels|
|Ready to be shipped out to make someone happy|
|Routering the edges smooth|
|Drilling the holes for the "windows" and the smaller holes for the wheels to be added|
I laughed and learned about each of them as I saw the process progress from a pile of wood scraps into the finished product. Each person had their part and were happy to explain why they were there and how much they love to do it.
|Sorting through the scrap lumber donated by nearby furniture and cabinet shops|
|Gluing the wood together. Two similar sized pieces are glued together for the perfect width of car|
|Cutting the stencils out|
|Tracing stencils of cars onto the wood|
So if you are ever in the area and want to do some service, go and help spread happiness! It uplifted me to be there so I guarantee it will uplift you too.