Wanted: World-traveling delivery person

Poulsbo resident Wally Harrison creates handcrafted wooden cars for kids in need, and is now looking for a little help delivering them all over the world.  - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
Poulsbo resident Wally Harrison creates handcrafted wooden cars for kids in need, and is now looking for a little help delivering them all over the world.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

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 he’s producing toy cars for kids in Third World countries.

And while he’s got the task of creating supply down to an art, he’s 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 Harrison’s 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, he’s 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.

“It’s down pretty pat now,” he said.

Still, the process isn’t just done on autopilot. It remains a task centered on adding a little more delight to the lives of kids.

When Harrison’s three honorary grandchildren stop by to say hello, the man’s hands fly wide into the air and his face lights up in happy animation. It’s clear he’s 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 I’m thinking ‘some little kid’s going to be tickled with this.’ Now I can make hundreds of kids happy,” he said, adding with a laugh, “It’s 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 he’s hoping to turn out 2,000 more. Right now he’s 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 he’s now hoping to find are more service organizations, businesses or individuals with the capacity to hand out the goods. He’s got the production bases covered, but needs others to help deliver.

Those interested can contact Harrison at (360) 697-3867. If he’s not whittling away in his workshop or high-fiving those honorary grandkids of his, he’ll gladly take the call.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Oct 21
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates