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Jax Woodworkers Club began in a detached garage in the backyard of Mr. Woodrow Connors home in 1989. Four guys would get together in the backyard and make wooden toys to be given away to small children. November is our favorite time as that is when we host the annual Christmas Toy Project.
In 2010 The City of Jacksonville recognized the Jax Woodworkers Club by introducing a Resolution honoring and commending the Woodworkers for their charitable work in the community.
Over the years the group grew, more toys were made and the meeting place changed. The club now has 55 members, always evolving. The meeting takes place the third Saturday of each month, and now the club meets at the St.Catherine’s Episcopal Church. The club elects officers each year, President, VP, Treasurer, Secretary, Sargent-At-Arms, Chaplain, Safety Captain, Calling Captain, and Website coordinator. We begin each meeting with a prayer and the pledge. Show-N-Tell is always a favorite part of the meeting.
The Club receives wood donated by Roulon Mfg, a local company. We also have Floridian Design Custom Cabinetry that donates wood and Bowen Upholstery donates foam for mattresses for cradles and doll beds. The Friendship Quilters Guild make beautiful little quilts for the cradles and doll beds. Wheels and axles, which are our biggest expense, are paid for using the dues raised from the annual membership fee and our annual tool auction. In October the members clean out their shops and bring in still good, but no longer needed tools to be auctioned off. That is quite fun!! Our dues were just raised from $15.00 to $20.00 per year.
We work with local and international organizations who work with children that don’t have much, who are frightened and alone. The stories we hear each year from the groups of how the toys are received bring tears to your eyes, and your heart grows two sizes too big! To think that a small wooden toy can make a child laugh and feel safe makes the work worthwhile. Many toys are sent internationally to orphanages around the world.
In 2007, 1,919 toys were donated and in 2021, 5,394 toys went to 18 agencies. We are hoping to break that record this year. The toys are sanded smooth, no toy is painted or stained, each are natural wood.
I hope in these few words and pictures, you will see the love that goes into each one of the toys made.
Thank you in advance for any donation you might forward to the Jax Woodworkers Club.
Jax Woodworkers Gives Away More Toys Each Year
The history of Jax Woodworkers Club, by Dr. Lorraine Haataia
“I’m the last living founding member of Jax Woodworkers. All the others have passed away. I’ve been the
Chaplin for many years,” Bobby Clayton said.
Woodrow Connors with Bobby Clayton, two of the four original founders of Jax Woodworkers Club.
“My neighbor, Woodrow Connors, had a two-car detached garage in his back yard. That’s where he had
all his woodworking equipment. When we moved into the neighborhood, he had been living there
several years before us. This is where Woodrow founded the club. I’ve been there ever since the
beginning, since the inception. Jax Woodworkers formed with four men, including me. Carmen
Fenanelli was a banker and became the treasurer right away. And Ray Reynolds was the other guy. He
made a bunch of grandfather clocks and walking canes, plus many, many, many toys over the years.
We’re considered to be the founders. But Woodrow was the man, the head man. It started a long time
ago,” Bobby said.
Jax Woodworkers started in December 1989 in Woodrow’s garage.
Woodrow Connors with Ray Reynolds, two of the four founders of Jax Woodworkers Club.
“Woodrow was already making the crosses. They were designed to be hung in rear-view mirrors inside
cars. He brought the idea from the North Jacksonville Baptist Church. He was a member of that church
and that’s where he got the idea. He started making crosses in his garage. Each one is made of
hardwood. They all have red yarn and a heart that holds the yarn together. His wife, Miriam, used to
string the red yarn through the crosses and add the plastic hearts. The crosses were free and not to be
sold. He just gave them away. Woodrow made more than 20,000 crosses and today they’re probably all
over the world,” Bobby said.
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