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Hand-crafted wood toys brighten patient's day

Bruce Gilbert walked into The Center, formerly known as the senior center, on Kingwood Street in Brainerd a month and a half ago with an idea to make wooden toys for children.

Ron Kulla, Don Holmstrom and Clem Sauer were happy to take up the cause.

“Sawdust runs in my veins,” Sauer said. “I have been working with wood since I was 10. We used to knock orange crates apart to use the wood.”

The men cut the wood in the wood shop at The Center and at their homes, then one day a week they come together and assemble the toys. Diane and Dick Miller are the toy painters. It has been a busy time for the Toy Makers, but they said they love it and plan to make toys all year round in 2013. So far this holiday season they have donated toys to the Marine Corps Toys for Tots, the Women’s Shelter in Brainerd and most recently to Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center Pediatrics Unit and Emergency Department.

“We are grateful to be able to give these toys to our little patients. They are adorable and the kids will really appreciate them,” said Jeanette Ruff, registered nurse, director of Family Birthplace and Pediatrics at Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center. To join the Toy Makers or learn more about the activities at The Center in Brainerd call 829-9345 or visit

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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