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For week ended August 22, 1999 Posted 29 Aug 1999

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Happy Factory Builds Wooden Toys That Can't Be Bought But Bring Joy Around the World

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Happy Factory Builds Wooden Toys That Can't Be Bought But Bring Joy Around the World
Salt Lake Tribune 17Aug99 C8
By Mark Haynes: Salt Lake Tribune

The wooden toys manufactured by Happy Factory are very popular, but they can't be purchased. Charles Cooley started building toys four years ago when he retired, uncertain what he would do with them. His wife soon discovered a use. She took a batch into Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake, getting in return "the best payday I ever had," according to Cooley, when an administrator was in tears from the couple's generosity.

The couple then founded Happy Factory, a volunteer organization that manufactures the toys, and the group has manufactured more than 14,000 wooden toys since then. The Cooleys were honored for their ingenuity and dedication by Swiss Army Brands, Inc. with the company's new Swiss Army Equipped Award on Thursday, August 12th.

Happy Factory has 500 to 600 volunteers from southwestern Utah who make the toys from wood scraps donated by a Cedar City cabinet maker. The volunteers work an assembly line. Finding volunteers for the project has never been a problem, say the Cooleys, "Charity is contagious," Charles Cooley says. Donna Cooley agrees, adding the Happy Factory, "Offers a place to give service for those wanting to."

Happy Factory has donated toys to more than 20 groups and organizations, including the LDS Church's Humanitarian Center. Following Hurricane Mitch last fall, the organization helped fill a need noticed by LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley.

"Hinckley said the children didn't even have a piece of candy," says Charles Cooley. But when candy companies in Salt Lake donated 7,000 pounds of candy, Honduras refused to allow the candy to be brought into the country because it was not an essential item. However, Honduras did allow Christmas packages, and Happy Factory donated hundreds of toys to be wrapped in packages with the candy and shipped to children in Honduras.

While many people have expressed interest in purchasing the toys that Happy Factory manufactures, Cooley says he will never sell his toys commercially, and isn't interested in the work required to make a commercial business. "The whole point of the toys is to make children happy, not money."

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information