Local woodworker’s toys make their way to children in Ukraine
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The kindness of Northeast Wisconsin is being felt in Ukraine. Action 2 News first reported in March about Rick Brunner and his mission to put smiles on the faces of Ukrainian children impacted by the war. Through his non-profit, “Rick’s Toybox” and dedicated volunteers, Brunner was able to build hundreds of toy cars to send overseas.
Rick Brunner is still in awe of the help he received last month, from complete strangers who showed up at his woodshop to help build toy cars for the children of Ukraine. According to Brunner, “For the Ukraine project, we made 896 cars. And when I dropped them off, it was like seven cases.”
Brunner donated the handmade toys to Wisconsin Ukrainians. The local group has been collecting supplies and monetary donations for the war-torn nation.
“When Rick brought his toys to us, we wanted to make sure we were able to track that, which we can’t do if it goes into general distribution. And so, we sent his toys to our known and trusted partners who delivered it,” Olga Halaburda-Hietpas,
Wisconsin Ukrainians shared pictures with Action 2 News of the Ukrainian children playing with the wooden cars, coloring with the crayons, and enjoying the lollipops Brunner sent. “When they saw these toys, I’m told, they really lit up and it was really beautiful,” adds Halaburda-Hietpas.
When Rick Brunner saw the pictures for the first time, he was left virtually speechless. He said, “WOW! This is just a sight to see. this is my overall goal. This is what Rick’s Toybox is all about.”
With a mission of putting smiles of faces, one toy at time -- Rick Brunner says seeing the impact his toys had on the children of Ukraine is why he does what he does, adding, “I guess this is why I’m starting my new shop. It’s going to be a community effort to continue this.”
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