As the holiday season approaches, the employees of Hodgdon Tenders, Damariscotta, and Hodgdon Yacht Services, Southport, have been gathering once a week to build toys.
Hodgdon built toys for donation some 20 years ago. The program re-started last year, thanks in large part to the efforts of Human Resources Manager Diane Hammond with the support of CEO Tim Hodgdon.
Last year, the Hodgdon team built 150 wooden toys—push-along puffins, sets of wooden blocks, and brightly painted tug boats. This year, “The elves have built 140 toys and finished ahead of schedule,” Hammond said. “The two new designs are a battleship, inspired by a childhood toy of Tim Hodgdon’s, and a lawnmower ... as the push-pull toy. When we cut out the toy pieces for assembly, we saved the leftovers to create assorted oiled wooden blocks, which we then put into bait bags. The lawnmowers were tricky, more time-consuming than we expected. But they came out great.”
The initiative is a team effort. Employees are invited to work for two hours a week as long as it takes to complete the toys. For one of those hours, they get their usual rate, but they donate the second hour. “Everyone involved, our company, the employees, and everyone connected with Toys for Tots, feels good about giving back to the community and sharing with children at Christmas,” Hodgdon said. “And it’s not just us, we’re very appreciative of the local businesses who’ve supported our efforts and the program.”
The wood was donated by N.C. Hunt in Jefferson and Hancock Lumber in Damariscotta. Miscellaneous parts, such as fastenings and dowels, were donated or discounted by Ames True Value Supply and Casey’s Wood Products in Wiscasset and Grover’s Hardware in Boothbay Harbor. The paint was donated last year by Ames True Value Supply, and Southport General Store gave a generous discount on the pizza Hodgdon provides for the workers each week.
The choice of toys is also something of a collaboration. Hodgdon and Hammond put forward with ideas, but the final decision and designs come from Hodgdon Yacht Services’ Jim Jones and Dave Radtke, who also provide the materials list and precut all the parts for assembly.
This year’s finished toys were delivered Nov. 14 to the newly established Lincoln County Toys for Tots. Visit wiscasset-me.toysfortots.org to apply by Nov. 30.