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Santa's Workshop Has Nothing on the Woodchucks of Highland Springs

August 24, 2011

Resident woodworkers donate original toys to patients at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children

DALLAS, TX---Santa's workshop famously gets rolling during the holidays, but for a group of residents at Highland Springs retirement community in North Dallas, building toys is a year round--and rewarding--endeavor.
They are known as the Woodchucks, and, once per month, they meet at the fully-equipped woodshop at Highland Springs.  The twenty-nine member club forms an assembly line to construct, glue and sand wood toys that are eventually delivered to young patients at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children (TSRHC).
Trucks. Buses. Race cars. Planes. Boats. Animal pull toys such as giraffes and doll cradles for the girls. The designs originate mainly from woodwork magazines, but also from the active imaginations of the residents.
Much of the material to make the toys is lumber donated from new residents, who empty their basements before moving to Highland Springs.  And Woodchucks' self-assessed dues go toward parts for the pull toys such as wheels.
Robert Jacobsen is the president of the Woodchucks.  The retired president of an architectural engineering firm, Mr. Jacobsen describes the mission as a labor of love.
"We are an experienced group of crafters, but each one of us recognizes that we are fortunate to enjoy our hobby," described Mr. Jacobsen.  "The children at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital are dealing with difficult circumstances.  To bring them some joy through the toys is very rewarding."
The Woodchucks average three deliveries throughout the year to TSRHC, with an amazing six hundred toys per shipment, states Mr. Jacobsen.  They also make toys for Dallas Children's Hospital and Plano Children's Medical Clinic.
Many of the toys are gifted, described Caroline Law, Development Officer for TSRHC, while others find their way to the Child Life playroom where patients can play and enjoy time away from physical therapy or their hospital room.
"The hospital functions through the tremendous support of donors, including individuals, foundations and corporations.  Non-monetary contributions such as the beautiful hand-made toys from the residents of Highland Springs make a positive difference in the lives of the children served at Scottish Rite," said Ms. Law.  "It's a wonderful mission, and we look forward to continuing this collaboration for many years to come."
To express its appreciation, TSRHC recently hosted residents of Highland Springs to a lunch and tour of its campus.
Getting a head start on the holidays, Mr. Jacobsen expects the next toy delivery to occur in the fall.
Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children is one of the nation's leading pediatric centers for the treatment of orthopaedic conditions, certain related neurological disorders and learning disorders, such as dyslexia. Admission is open to Texas children from birth up to 18 years of age. Patients receive treatment regardless of the family's ability to pay. For more information, to volunteer or to make a donation, please call (214) 559-5000 or (800) 421-1121 or visit

About Highland Springs: Highland Springs, managed and developed by Erickson Living, is a retirement community that provides worry-free living for America's seniors-the country's fastest growing population segment.  Erickson Living's financial value and predictable monthly service fees provide residents across the country financial peace of mind.  Comprehensive health and wellness services, integrated into our continuum of care, lead to demonstrated resident benefits.  A robust complement of resident programs and facilities promote an engaged, fulfilling lifestyle that is reflected in resident satisfaction levels that exceed the industry average.  And the company's wide-ranging employee programs have earned Erickson Living numerous awards, including Fortune magazine's "Best Companies to Work For®" in 2008 and 2009.