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."