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For $10, you can put a toy car in a child’s hands
POULSBO — To put a toy car in the hands of every child who needs a toy.
And not just any toy car — a handmade, wood car, assembled and delivered by a team of loving volunteers.
That’s the goal of Wally Harrison and his Wally Cars, simple wood toy cars with wheels that the recipient can personalize and play with.
Since 2008, Harrison’s Poulsbo Place garage has been a Santa’s workshop of sorts: Some 7,000 cars have been delivered to children in 20 countries by various philanthropic travelers, as well as Children of the Nations and Operation Christmas Child.
Cars are also gifted to children at Eli’s House, a home for victims of domestic violence; and the Royal Family Kids Camp, a local camp which hosts abandoned, abused and neglected children.
You can sponsor a Wally Car for $10. That covers the cost of materials and shipping. Harrison’s goal is to make and distribute 2,000 Wally Cars this year.
This year’s corporate sponsors include Blue Sky Printing, Central Market, EHL Insurance, Kingston Lumber, Liberty Bay Bank, and Office Max.
The idea for Wally Cars goes back about 20 years. Harrison and his wife, Marge, joined the Peace Corps when they were in their 50s. In Jamaica, they were interested in the makeshift toys that children played with.
In his working career, he’s been a boat builder and a furniture maker. After moving to Poulsbo Place, he began manufacturing play furniture, PeggZ, which children can take apart and put back together again. After retiring from that career, he began tinkering and Wally Cars was born.
With a band saw, a pair of high-powered sanders, and volunteers, he can turn 2 by 6-inch fir scraps into dozens of toy cars in a matter of days.
“When I get a car done or near done, I’m thinking, some little kid’s going to be tickled with this,” he said in an earlier interview. “Now I can make hundreds of kids happy. It’s tremendously satisfying for me.”