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In the spirit of the season

Eagle’s Trace residents gear up for the holidays

Created date

November 26th, 2013

For the past eight years, members of the woodworking club at Eagle s Trace have spent the better part of each year crafting handmade toys for underprivileged children. Child Protective Services distributes the toys, which range from doll cradles to toy cars and planes, every December. Our productivity has waned a bit in recent years, says Ray Hope, chairman of the Eagle s Trace woodworking club. But this year, we ve added new members to our group who are passionate about this project. As a result, the woodworkers are making their largest donation to date, with more than 100 toys bound for children in need. One of our new members, Bill Pratt, brought a special machine with him when he moved to Eagle s Trace, says Ray. It s a CarveWright, and it s increased the variety of toys we can produce.

More than a hobby

The Audubon Clubhouse at Eagle s Trace included a fully furnished woodshop when the community opened in 2005. As new residents with an interest in woodworking move in, many bring tools or pieces of wood to add to the inventory. I ve made toys for several years with the CarveWright, which is a computer controlled relief carving machine, says Bill. When my wife and I moved to Eagle s Trace in August 2013, I was happy to have a place to continue my woodworking hobby. Bill contributed fire engines, school buses, and trains to the pile already bound for Child Protective Services. The beauty of crafting toys with natural wood is there s nothing a child can do to them that can t be fixed with a piece of sandpaper, says Bill. It s nearly impossible to break them, unlike many commercially sold toys. The woodworkers recruited resident Betty Finkelman to help them put the finishing touches on the doll cradles. Betty made quilts and pillows to complete each cradle. This was a team effort, says Ray. Everyone pitched in.

Ornament-decorating contest

The woodworkers aren t the only ones preparing for the holiday season. Resident artists decorated ornaments for a contest sponsored by Texas State Representative Jim Murphy of District 133. Eagle s Trace is located in Representative Murphy s district, says Marilyn Black, chairman of the Resident Life Committee, which organized the ornament-decorating effort. The theme of the contest is Fun and Games on the Buffalo Bayou. The winning ornament will hang on the Lone Star Christmas Tree in the House Chamber in Austin. The rest of the ornaments will be displayed on the District 133 tree inside Memorial City Mall. We hope one of ours will win, says Betty Schell, a contributing artist. Betty s elaborate ornament features a miniature scene of people and wildlife playing along Buffalo Bayou. She crafted many of the features, like the alligator and canoe, by hand. This was a fun project, says Betty. It certainly put us in the holiday spirit.