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    Ingraham High School Students Assemble Toys for Children in Hospitals
    Posted on 01/28/2019
    Two students sit at a desk making toys

    Ingraham High School Students Assemble Toys for Children in Hospitals

    The sound of the hammer hitting nails and the sanding of wood can be heard from the hallways before you enter Jessica Monfil’s family and consumer science career and technical education (CTE) classroom at Ingraham High School. Though it’s early release Wednesdays, more than 20 students gathered in Monfil’s classroom to assemble toys for children in local hospitals. Through volunteer services, students work with tools and wood models to assemble toys for children at Seattle Children’s Hospital, Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital Ronald McDonald Houses, and Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada.

    Through the partnership of a community organization called Toys that Make Smiles, students are given the opportunity to give back to the community, apply their leadership skills through service learning in CTE, and earn community service hours towards graduation. Best of all, they can make a direct impact on the lives of others.

    Monfils and Kimberly Marberg advise a Career and Technical Student Organization at Ingraham called Family, Career, Community, Leaders of America (FCCLA) that is responsible for hosting the Toys that Makes Smiles events. Toys that Make Smiles is a local nonprofit foundation dedicated to bringing joy and smiles to children in hospitals through the gifts of toys and educational items made from wood and associated materials by its staff and local high school students.

    Sophia, a sophomore at Ingraham High School, shares that her sister was once a patient at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “After she had her surgery, they took her into a room where she could choose from a bunch of toys. It kind of distracted her from what was going on while she was there.”

    Tony Milanowski, Founder of Toys that Make Smiles, explains that the children receiving the toys have expressed their gratitude. Just last year alone, the organization delivered 1,000 toys to local children’s hospitals. “The [Ingraham] students make the body of the toys, and the kids at the hospital, they get to paint it and bling it out. The students here make sure that it’s sanded down right, so there aren’t any sharp edges.”

    For Milanowski, starting this project at Ingraham had a purpose. He is an alum of the school; he graduated with the Class of 1990. “I was part of the woodshop class here, and I wanted to give students the opportunity to work with their hands, as I was given that chance to explore.”

    Through the support of Monfils and Milanowski, the students can donate their time and contribute towards a meaningful cause in the local community. Tony says he’s excited about future possibilities. Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital asked if students would be willing to come in and work with the children at the hospital to teach them how to assemble the wooden toy models. According to Tony, the plans are still in the works.

    As for now, the students at Ingraham High School will continue to meet once a month after school to bring joy to children through their service. Sophia finds that the time and work are valuable. As she sands down one of the wooden model pieces, she says, “It’s nice to give something good back to the community.”