Giving Back

Calling all volunteers: Toymakers needed to help Detroit children

  • Toys built by Reclaim Detroit
    Toys built by Reclaim Detroit
  • Felix Rosado Showing How To Use Machine
    Felix Rosado Showing How To Use Machine
  • Finished Toy Airplane
    Finished Toy Airplane
  • Felix Rosado shows how to make toys
    Felix Rosado shows how to make toys

Salvaged wood from condemned homes in Detroit is being used to make Christmas toys for some of the city’s neediest children and you can help.

A Clarion Call has gone out from Reclaim Detroit for aspiring Santa’s helpers who can commit a few hours this holiday season to make a difference in the lives of little kids who are less fortunate.  If you know anyone interested in giving back by helping make wooden toy presents please share this post.

Making Christmas toys can be a personally rewarding experience as well as memorable holiday activity by bringing a family or group of neighbors and friends closer together.  It can also be a great team-building initiative for a local company to help strengthen employee spirit when working together on a common goal that helps employee’s individually and the group collectively.  What better way for a local company to give back to the community than to enable its employees to make holiday toys for needy children.

Recently, the extremely enthusiastic and very talented team of aspiring carpenters from the Detroit Regional News Hub (Detroit Unpsun) spent half a day building toy airplanes out of reclaimed hard pine that will be included in the 400 or so handmade toys for this years’ annual Warming Detroit Christmas Party on December 15.  Our team spent a very productive morning tracing toy patterns, sawing, drilling, sanding, assembling and gluing everything together – and not one splinter or smashed finger in the bunch.

Our efforts would have made Santa proud and his elves a little jealous.  In addition to toy airplanes the children will receive, wood cars and trucks, buses, trains, cradles, strollers and high chairs.  Everyone reading this blog can help add to this worthwhile holiday activity by volunteering just a few hours.

Reclaim Detroit was founded a few years ago as a social enterprise of the Warm Training Center. Its primary focus is to divert as much reusable materials as possible from Detroit’s condemned and unsafe structures that historically went to landfills. Their plan is to become a sustainable green business that creates jobs for city residents, saves tons of usable materials from being thrown away as trash and to preserve and sell quality wood products for reuse.

This holiday season marks the third year the folks at Reclaim Detroit are making toys from their salvaged wood inventory stored on the campus of Focus Hope.  Its team of cheerful but hardworking elves is led by Master toymaker Felix Rosado. Felix is the gracious and very humble mastermind behind this wonderful holiday toy-making program.  He found his way to WARM via Detroit GreenWorks Solutions, a green jobs training program led by Southwest Solutions.

GreenWorks helps unemployed and underemployed individuals obtain the skills and knowledge they need to gain long-term employment in good paying jobs.  Felix represents the best of what can happen through job training – and that is getting someone back on his or her feet to become a skilled, hard-working and valued employee.

To learn more about Reclaim Detroit’s Christmas toy-making initiative you can contact Salina Ali, logistics manager at 313- 434-4943 or  Volunteers can help every Tuesday and Thursday evening beginning November 6th (5 pm to 8:30 pm), and Saturday’s (9 am to 3:30 pm). And if you don’t have the time to volunteer but want to make a donation of money or toys, please contact Lisa Grace, development director, at 313-894-1030 ext. 130 or

WARM is a local non-profit that for more than 30 years has helped tens of thousands of low and moderate income households improve their homes with weatherization, maintenance and overall energy efficiency mostly at no cost.  WARM also provides technical assistance to area organizations on energy efficiency, green building and jobs training, with a focus on best practices and sustainability. The folks at WARM would love to see Detroit become a city where their services were no longer needed.


Contact Felix at or by phone at 586-744-8035 or Sal at  or by phone at 313-434-4943


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