Wanted: World-traveling delivery person
June 10, 2008 · Updated 4:19 PM
POULSBO Former home and boat builder Wally Harrison is now in the car business.
Toy cars, to be exact.
The not-so-retired 80-year-old has transformed his Poulsbo Place garage into a woodworking shop where hes producing toy cars for kids in Third World countries.
And while hes got the task of creating supply down to an art, hes hoping to find a little help meeting the demand.
The idea of the cars wooden curved toys with a window and set of wheels first sprouted in Harrisons mind when he and his wife Marge were serving in the Peace Corps. The two still remember seeing a pair of young boys in Jamaica entranced with a newfound toy: a rubber band.
The kids had nothing, they had sticks and rocks to play with, Harrison said.
From that moment the idea has grown in his mind. Some 20 years later, hes detailed his own designs and found the best way to make a kid-friendly and fun toy simplistic to create.
Now, he said his system of using 2x6-inch fir scraps, a pair of high-powered sanders and a band saw has become routine.
Its down pretty pat now, he said.
Still, the process isnt just done on autopilot. It remains a task centered on adding a little more delight to the lives of kids.
When Harrisons three honorary grandchildren stop by to say hello, the mans hands fly wide into the air and his face lights up in happy animation. Its clear hes got a heart full of caring to share, and the cars are just one of his ways of spreading the joy.
When I get a car done or near done Im thinking some little kids going to be tickled with this. Now I can make hundreds of kids happy, he said, adding with a laugh, Its tremendously satisfying for me. I almost feel selfish doing it.
Harrison makes the cars in batches of 40-50. He said producing a bundle can take just a matter of days, and hes hoping to turn out 2,000 more. Right now hes got about 150 lined up in his workshop.
Sets of the cars have traveled as far as Colombia, Senegal, Indonesia, Mexico and Tanzania, and have also been sent to an area Royal Family Kids Camp, which hosts abused, neglected and abandoned kids.
In his first nine months of producing them, Harrison shipped out more than 700 cars in the capable hands of various philanthropic travelers.
While the octogenarian said he may employ a few of his retired buddies to help produce the mini automobiles, what hes now hoping to find are more service organizations, businesses or individuals with the capacity to hand out the goods. Hes got the production bases covered, but needs others to help deliver.
Those interested can contact Harrison at (360) 697-3867. If hes not whittling away in his workshop or high-fiving those honorary grandkids of his, hell gladly take the call.