PITTSBURG, Kan. — Pittsburg State University’s Kansas Technology Center (KTC) turned into Santa’s Workshop on Wednesday evening as members of the university’s Society of Architectural Woodworkers (SAW) gathered to build toys for the local chapter of Toys for Tots.  

“It’s just something to give back,” PSU Associate Professor Charlie Phillips said. “They can use their abilities, their skills to give back to the community.”  

Roughly 10 of the club's members gathered in a lab at the KTC to assemble wooden toy trucks—with working wheels and tailgate—which the club also designed, and mass produced themselves.  

“It wasn’t just all of a sudden people showed up and started putting things together,” Phillips said. “There was a lot of prep work.”  

Phillips said he loves this event because it not only gives back to the community, but his students really get to apply what they are learning in class.  

“It is a sense of pride for me as an instructor to see the passion they are putting into it,” Phillips said. “It’s not for a grade, it's not for anything other than just out of the goodness of their hearts.”  

The idea for the event came about a couple of years ago when a former SAW member who had done something similar while he was in high school wanted to replicate the event at PSU. The club works for most of the semester designing, engineering and mass producing the parts for the toys and they switch up the design each year. In the past they have created airplanes, helicopters and motorcycles.  

“The students really enjoy it,” Phillips said. “We have students from all across the country here, not just from the four-states area, and so I think it's something they can feel good about participating in and it helps those that need it more than we do.”  

While Phillips supervises the event, he said it is largely run by the students, in particular SAW’s Treasurer Connor Jennings, a PSU sophomore, who not only was there to help build the toys and monitor others’ work, but played a major role in designing the toys as well.  

“This is a great chance to help the community,” Jennings said. “And it also gets a lot of students involved.”  

Students in attendance excitedly hammered, sanded and glued parts of the trucks together as their creation came to life, but were also excited to be able to do something nice for the community.  

“It’s nice that we get to give back to kids that are in need,” PSU student Stephanie Reza said.  

SAW plans to have all 200 trucks ready before PSU leave for Thanksgiving in a few weeks and will be diligently working to make sure they are all complete.  

The trucks will then be delivered to Toys for Tots, which directly helps more than 1,500 Southeast Kansas children.