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Kiwanis Club of Longmont finds new home for toy making shop

Although COVID-19 force the Kiwanis Club to find a new home, it is still able to fulfill its toy-making mission.

Serving children in Longmont’s community for over 90 years, the coronavirus has not kept Kiwanis Club of Longmont from its mission of “improving the world one child and one community at a time” by making toys for children out of recycled lumber.

Kiwanis member and project coordinator Marvin Peursem and his volunteers work on making toys for children, though due to COVID-19 and the progression of cases rising, volunteers and available space was on the decline. Fortunately, space became available. Each week volunteers come together to make little wooden toys. According to Peursem, there are more than 100 patterns from which volunteers can choose. The toys are made of wood that has been donated by Woodly’s Furniture. The Kiwanis are given scrap pieces from the furniture maker that are useless to create a piece of furniture from, but just the right size to make several wooden toys from, Peursem said.

“As a result of the corona pandemic, only very few volunteers now come. We are very grateful to Mountain View Welding at 1240 Kimbark Ave. for making second-story vacant factory space available for us,” Peursem said.

Prior to the shuttering of government buildings to the public, the Kiwanis Club met each Friday at the Longmont Senior Center. There Peursem would update the group of that week’s toy progress. When the virus hit, the Kiwanis had to find another home. They moved into the vacated second story of Mountain View Welding, where they now have a dedicated space for their toy-making and a meeting place each week.

Each year the Kiwanis donate over 10,000 handcrafted wooden toys to children and hospitals serving children locally and overseas, Peursem said.

These efforts are funded through fundraising projects. With events closed since March, the opportunities to raise more funds lessen each month. But this has not deterred the toy-making efforts.

Larry Schluntz, a volunteer toymaker, said, “We’re doing pretty good despite the pandemic. People working at home and some of us working at the shop.” 

Until fundraising efforts can begin again, the club plans to attend multiple shows to sell 10% of its toys, which will be just enough revenue to buy needed supplies, Schluntz said.

In spite of the pandemic and its constraint on the community, the club maintains hope to produce handmade wooden toys and is looking forward to the Christmas season. Schluntz said, “Last Christmas we donated to 30 organizations and I don’t remember how many, but it’s like 5,000 (toys).”

He said he expects to see the same number of donations for this year but the club, like other nonprofits, is feeling the pinch of the virus.

“We’re fortunate if we can hold our own, I’m afraid. Service organizations of all kinds are struggling to retain membership. We’re 28 members. We lost one about a week ago,” Schluntz said.

The Kiwanis are planning a membership drive and a probable showcase for the Longmont community, with goals to schedule shows and services again in October.

As part of Kiwanis International, serving children for over 100 years, the club is looking to late August to continue providing new toys and new donations to the children and community of Longmont.

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