Students at Aspire's Center for Learning recieved wooden toys for Christmas from the Western New York Woodturners 1.
CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y.- For one day each year, the gym at Aspire's Center for Learning looks more like Santa's Workshop. There are carols and handmade gifts reminiscent of years gone by.
For 19 years, Western New York Woodturners 1 have worked all year long making hundreds of wooden toys to give out at Aspire's annual holiday party.
"It makes it worthwhile just making the toys and seeing how they react to them," said Gene Renzoni, a member of the Woodturners and organizer of the party.
"The donate their own materials and time, and one way or another they get them here," said President Steve Imersese.
The students at the Center for Learning all have varying types of developmental disabilities. For some of their special needs, wooden toys are perfect.
"They're just so much more durable," said Cathy Voyer, the center's Director of Children's Services. "Things break if they're plastic. Where as these toys are, they're sturdy."
The girls seem to gravitate towards the dolls, that come in handmade wooden cradles.
"The boys tend to go for anything that moves," said Renzoni.
Whether it's through a shy smile, the look of excitement in their eyes, or a thank-you card, the children are appreciative.
"It makes it all worthwhile, it really does, to see the smile on their faces," said Imersese.
The party has been happening for the past two decades. Any remaining toys are sent to the classrooms for the children to play with there.