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Toy-building event at FHSU set
COURTESY PHOTO Fort Hays State University’s associate professor Zach Pixler will lead the Teaming Up for Tots event on Dec. 3.

HAYS — Fort Hays State University is looking for volunteers to participate in the university’s annual toy-building event.

The Dr. Fred P. Ruda Teaming Up for Tots (TUFT) Day is set for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, in the woodshop of FHSU’s Center for Applied Technology. 

The Department of Applied Technology is asking Santa’s helpers of all ages to come and participate in the year’s TUFT Day. All are welcome to volunteer for the toy production. Children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. 

Since 1990, faculty, staff, and community members have gathered on the first Saturday in December to assemble toys for children ages 2 to 6 who might not otherwise receive gifts for the holidays. Jobs will include sanding, running parts from station to station, putting on wheels, attaching components, and finish work. Those with experience will be able to run some machine operations. Volunteers can come and go as it fits into their schedule. 

Students in Materials, Processes, and Production class – taught by associate professor Zach Pixler – produced several designs for the toy. Pixler and Kim Stewart, department chair, then chose the design. The winning design for this year is a space shuttle. 

Like all the toys made for this event over the years, this year’s toy will be hand-crafted entirely of wood. Students cut out the individual pieces beforehand in preparation for the Saturday toy-building event.  

“This event is an opportunity for our students to give back to the Hays community, which does so much to support our program,” Pixler said. “Our students get the opportunity to practice manufacturing principles while providing a custom, hand-produced toy for children in the Hays community.” 

The many hours of planning and pre-production put in by the FHSU students will allow volunteers to complete more than  200 toys in one morning. 

“It is very rewarding for our students to see their sketches and ideas come to life,” Pixler added. “So much work goes into preparing the production run, and it is very satisfying to see the end result of hundreds of toys getting boxed up and sent to kids in our community.”