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A Toy Story that hits the road

Posted: January 21 2023 at 02:51 PM
Doug And Zulma

Kids Above All Vice President of Resource Development Zulma Colon and late Rev. Doug Williams with the toy cars in 2017.

The late Rev. Doug Williams brought the idea of making and distributing toy wooden cars to his congregation at Aldersgate UMC in Rockford in 2011 as a new ministry to children. Combining inspiration from a similar ministry in Florida and his woodworking hobby, it was Doug’s dream for a life-giving impact. The congregation began the ministry and by the end of their first year had made and distributed 95 cars. Even after Rev. William’s reassignment and later passing in June 2019, the ministry continues to make a lasting legacy. The toy ministry continues, and as of December 2022, the church had given away almost 15,400 cars.

In 2016, when Rev. Williams was appointed to Salem UMC in Barrington, he brought his toy ministry with him. There is a team of 12 to 15 members of Salem UMC that have continued this ministry working throughout the year. To date, the Salem UMC volunteers have created and given away over 2,000 cars.

Freshly Cut Out Cars B4 Paint

Freshly cut and sanded cars are waiting for their bright coat of paint and daisy details.

Kids Above All is one of the recipients of the brightly-colored “unplugged” toys, including firetrucks, tractors, race cars, a Batman car, and daisy-decorated cars, giving them to children in their early childhood program and foster care through their annual Holiday Gift Drive. This “assembly line ministry” takes many hands to cut out the car pieces, sand the pieces, assemble, paint and coordinate distribution. Doug’s widow, Lisa Williams notes that a lot of people have partnered with the churches to serve in this ministry, from Boy Scout troops to Wesley Willows retirement home residents (which is located next to Aldersgate UMC) to National Honor Society students.  “Lots of different people, lots of different stages in life, everybody working together on this ‘assembly line of a different kind’ manufactures these beautiful, simple, non-electric cars,” notes Deaconess Inserra.

Pat W Trucks

Volunteer Pat Clankie of Aldersgate UMC adds the details to the firetrucks after they have been painted.

Lisa agreed, adding that she wants people to know that “something so simple that many hands have contributed to can have such a profound impact in the life of a child— and to convey how it is such a unique and beautiful and fun way to show that so many people care and love others.”

* Article contributed to by Deaconess Catherine Inserra, Manager of Faith and Community Relations, Kids Above All

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