Woodworking Guild donates handcrafted toys to children in need
By Melanie Petrucci, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – A labor of love became a very worthwhile service project when members of the Eastern Massachusetts Guild of Woodworkers (EMGW) decided to make handcrafted wooden toys for the “Toys for Tots” program this year. Roughly three dozen toys were delivered to the drop-off location at the Gymnastics Learning Center in Shrewsbury Dec. 10. There were multiple sets of hand-carved wooden blocks, animals, alligators, car transports, and airplane and frog pull toys that will go to children in need.
The guild believes strongly in public service and has done similar service projects for many years. This year they decided to make small, handcrafted toys for “Toys for Tots” because, according to Jim Tartaglia, president of the EMGW, “this project allowed more members to participate by creating small toys in smaller groups rather than trying to do one large project which would be difficult to manage because of space.”
Members have been working to craft toys since September. The toys are durable and heirloom quality.
“These are simple and classic toys and, because there is concern about toxicity of finishes, mineral oil was used instead of traditional wood finishes,” Tartaglia explained. “They are all wooden with the wood grain showing and they have a retro feel. Blocks were made a number of years ago for a preschool and they kids really appreciated them and they inspire creativity and imagination on the part of the child.”
The guild was founded in the 1990s in the Boston area and has since migrated west to Worcester. The group is made up of about 80 woodworking professionals and hobbyists, primarily male and many who are retired. Women are welcome and encouraged to get involved. Members come to the organization with varied skill sets. Some are highly skilled and others are virtual beginners. The main goal is to advance knowledge and woodworking skills.
According to the website, EMGW “is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of excellence in the woodworking community through the sharing of information in the art, technique and business of woodworking. We aspire to these goals in order to promote and foster interest in our craft for both the aspiring and skilled woodworker.”
The group holds monthly general meetings on the second Saturday of each month and the location will change to accommodate different regions. Membership is spread out from Boston from the north shore as far as Peabody and to the south shore, metrowest and central Massachusetts.
Meetings usually include a guest speaker or someone to demonstrate a particular skill and there are smaller groups that meet to work on particular projects or skills. The guild features a furniture interest group as well as a mentoring program for novice woodworkers.
Tartaglia has been involved for about 15 years.
“There is tremendous value in the EMGW,” he said. “We learn many skills locally and with ease.”
In recent years, woodworking has become quite popular but it can also be solitary. The guild provides a needed social outlet.
New members are always welcome. Those interested are encouraged to visit www.emgw.org or mail their inquiries to: Eastern Massachusetts Guild of Woodworkers, 6 Old Colony Road, Worcester, MA 01609.
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