The members of the Mason Dixon Woodworkers Club combine craftsmanship and compassion to make the holidays brighter for disadvantaged youth
The Mason Dixon Woodworkers Club in Salisbury got its start roughly 20 years ago, when woodworker Irv “Poor Ol’ Irv” Aydelotte invited several of his fellow club members to join him in the workshop adjacent to his Delmar home. Today, the Mason Dixon Woodworkers Club has evolved into a bona fide 501C3 nonprofit organization that makes some 1,300 toys each year in their newly acquired workshop on Old Ocean City Rd. The array of toys — made from woods like sapele, mahogany, cherry, poplar and pine — hark back to a bygone era when quality and craftsmanship were first and foremost, which is why these beautiful creations are amazing to touch and see firsthand.
In addition to things like rocking cradles, coloring-book carriers, folding blackboards and rocking dinosaurs, the club cranks out scores of model trains, analog clocks, ferryboats and even replicas of a 1907 Model T Ford and a 1908 Olds Reo.
“We also make a doll bed that comes with a mattress, pillow and blanket that are crocheted by the ladies of the Delmar Library knitting club,” shared Karson Morrison, a retired software developer for AT&T and 50-year woodworker who joined the Mason Dixon club eight years ago. “We figured that the doll beds needed to come complete with all the proper accessories, so the kids could enjoy them right out of the box.”
Come the first Saturday in December, the Mason Dixon workshop must resemble its more legendary counterpart in the North Pole. That’s when all the toys made throughout the year are gathered up and distributed to somewhere between 20 and 30 local charities, which in turn distribute them to the waiting arms of the children. Morrison reports that the work these craftsmen put in can be long and tedious but that it’s all worth it when they see the faces of the children holding their handcrafted presents.
Much of the wood the club uses is donated by both businesses and private citizens, but it turns out that not all wood is suitable for toy-making.
“We can’t use any chemically treated wood, like plywood or decking,” Morrison said, “because it’s not really safe or approved for the kids, which is the same reason we avoid using paint on our toys as well.”
Morrison went on to say that the club also gratefully accepts financial donations and that even a modest donation of, say, $50 can make a tangible, memorable difference in the lives of many underprivileged children.
To make a contribution to or learn more about the Mason Dixon Woodworkers Club outreach
program for children, visit MasonDixonWoodworkers.org, email them at MasonDixonWoodworkers@gmail.com or call toys-program chairman Don Connell at 410-546-3692.
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