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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Is there too much CAD and not enough blueprint reading?

 I'm curious! Which do you think is more important? CAD skills or blueprint reading skills? This is a very important subject for those of us involved in teaching, training, and industrial manufacturing. So far in the last five years I've seen many students come out of college level classes with cad related skills that had no idea how to read a blueprint. It seems to me like we missed the point somewhere along the way.

A very simple mechanical print
 Now like many of you, I have been on both sides of the aisle on this subject. I've had one foot stuck in academia and the other foot stuck in manufacturing, which quite frankly sometimes makes it hard to walk, but both sides really need to get a firm grasp on this as we continue to try to address the skills gaps found among students leaving education and joining the workforce.

 It is my opinion that too much time is spent teaching students CAD when what is really needed is for students to know how to read a blueprint.  I can see all the academics in the group right now with their hair standing on the back of their neck. The reality in industry is how many people really need to know how to draw in a CAD program? The vast majority of the workforce that's needed will never draw parts up in a CAD program. This includes job roles like welder, machinist, CNC operator, supervisor, quality inspector, and even a lot of management personnel will not draw in AutoCAD, Mastercam, Solidworks or any of the other CAD/CAM programs that are out there. However pretty much every single one of those job roles will need to know how to read the blue print that's put out on the shop floor. It seems to me that education has failed a lot of students by teaching them how to draw in a CAD program but not really training them on the fine art of blueprint reading and interpretation.

Getting harder to read.
 We just let the engineers handle all of that you say. That's fine. Engineers do need to know how to draw in CAD programs but they also need to know how to read blueprints.  In my experience, the vast majority of engineers in manufacturing are not doing the design work that requires drawing in CAD. They are however taking a customer’s blueprint, interpreting it and drawing the part into their companies CAD program. Blueprint reading and interpretation is still more relevant.  If you are teaching a CAD class, are you incorporating blueprint reading skills and abilities in your class? Or are you just assuming that students already know how to look at and read a blueprint?

 My argument is really quite simple. Blueprint reading is much more of a necessity and critical then CAD. Education of course embraced CAD over 20 years ago because students sucked up the technology like sponges and still do. Educators are always excited when students take an active interest in what their teaching.  I can't deny that, whether it's on a high school or college level, students have far more interest in sitting in a classroom behind a computer drawing in a CAD program then they do sitting at drafting tables looking over and studying printed out blueprints.

Assembly print
For students, designing and drawing in CAD is a lot of fun. I too would much rather create then copy. But again the reality behind industry and manufacturing is the design and drawing aspect is a relatively small percentage of the job tasks that need to be done. There is a relatively small amount of personnel needed for this task in comparison to all of the other manufacturing operations combined. When we’re talking about skills gaps, more people will need to be able to read a blueprint then will be in need of being able to draw a part in CAD. If students don’t know how to visualize the final 3-dimensional part from a drawing, either print or digital, when they come out of a class than did they really achieve what was important for their future success?

And let’s not even begin to talk about G, D & T. That’s geometric dimensioning and tolerancing for any non-manufacturing people out there reading this. If a student doesn’t know how to relate part features from one view to another view than there is no sense to try to explain parallel, perpendicularity, cylindricity, profile of a surface and other more complex part design requirements. Heck, I even get myself confused on some of these sometimes. Where do I have bonus tolerance at and if I make this to +.0003 and that to -.0001 will the part still fit when the hole is -.0002?

Again I say it all goes back to being able to read the blueprint.

Because it's cool and I'm a Geek!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Maintenance Man Math


One of the aspects of being an Industrial Technology teacher that I like the most is being able to cover a wide range of different topics and subject matter. There never seems to be a shortcoming of applicable class material to help prepare students for future careers in Industrial Technology. STEM curriculum has been incorporated into a lot of school curriculum and I fully endorse getting all students more involved in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math. Of course it is being taught using a wide variety of different methods depending on whether the teacher is endorsed in math, science, or technology. The important aspect of STEM curriculum to me is in helping students of all disciplines make the connection between the importance of knowing enough in all four subjects to be able to recognize how each applies to the other and why they "need to know" and conversely be able to do the math, science, engineering and technology that will be required for jobs in the future.
Math is one of those areas that a lot of students struggle with. A lot of research is being done into trying to determine reasons why students struggle so much with math. I have to admit that I am not real well versed on the research. I do tend to believe that in many cases it is because student's just can't relate to where they will need to use it. Most people don't really think about how much of industrial technologists and trades people rely on math every day to perform the job duties. One of the reasons why I prefer teaching industrial technology to science, math and engineering is that I am better prepared to explain the relevance of math, science and engineering to a group of individuals that need to learn industrial technology. These students usually have not excelled in applying math or science in the past and it is really a good feeling for me when I see the light bulb turn on and they "get" the reasons for doing the math in a real world problem.
So where does the maintenance man fit into my current diatribe you might ask? Most people probably don't think about maintenance men and their ability to do math but maintenance personnel use it everyday and without it a lot of our modern conveniences wouldn't continue to work and provide us with the hydraulics, pneumatics, air conditioning, working plumbing, elevators, and other services that we usually take for granted when we enter a building.
As an example I ask you to consider a simple "O" ring. Yes, there are many different sizes of "O" rings out there that are needed in residential, commercial and industrial settings. The maintenance man needs to be aware of the outer diameter (O.D.), inner diameter (I.D.), and a radial cross section or "thickness" of the o ring. This is usually pretty simple to figure out and just a matter of checking suppliers charts or the owners manual part list of the equipment needed to be repaired. Here's a link to a reference chart if you are interested http://www.allorings.com/size_cross_reference_framed.htm.  Not really much math other than recognizing the size and being able to measure size to insure proper selection. Unfortunately most maintenance men will tell you that a repair job is not always that easy and often times something as simple as a $0.35 o ring can stall a job and cause a lot of lost time by not having the right part. In a best case scenario, there is a preventive maintenance program in place that takes care of replacement parts before failure occurs but how does the maintenance man fix the equipment when failure has occurred, the o ring has broken and there is no owner's manual?

Here is an example of where knowing the math really comes into play.
 
This broken O ring needs to be replaced but I don't know what size I need. I need to take some measurements and apply my math abilities to this problem to get the part I need and make the repair. From the O ring size charts I know I need to have the O.D., I.D., an thickness of the part to order the replacement. Unfortunately this o ring in no longer a perfect circle so its not real easy to just measure the O.D. and I.D. I can try.
 


First I'll measure the longer side which is almost 6". Next I'll measure the shorter side.
















That looks to be around 2-1/4". Hmm, I'll just average the two measurements out and split the difference to get the answer.

 No, that's too hard and just complicates things.


I'll just pull and stretch the o ring back into a circle before taking my measurement. 
 
 
Well that measures somewhere around 5-1/4". There is still a lot of guessing going on for my size here so I can either order several different sizes of O rings and hope I get the right one or I can step up my math game a bit and remember the relationship between diameters, radii and circumference and apply those equations to the one thing that I can take an exact measurement of the left over o ring on, the length of the  broken o ring.
 Remembering that circumference is a linear distance around a curve, I can use the distance measurement of the length of the broken O ring to determine the diameter of the O ring. That distance measures 14.5". My formula is C=2πr or in this case C=πDiameter. Plug in my numbers and I get 14.5"=(3.142) x diameter. Reduce the equation by dividing both sides by 3.142. 14.5"/3.142=diameter. Solving the equation gives me a diameter of 4.615 which is similar to 4.625 or 4-5/8" diameter O Ring.
 
This all seems pretty easy for me as I go through the math in my head to find out what I need to replace this part, but time and time again I have found that both high school students and adults in my corporate training classes are not able to do this math to get the answer they need. I've heard both educators, HR professionals and corporate trainers complain about the lack of these math skills when they get a new student in the class room. I don't know if it is that the individuals never really learned how to do it and where the math applied or if they just forgot over time from lack of use. Either way, it is a math skill that needs to be learned for success in Industrial technology applications so it is my job as a teacher/corporate trainer to make sure that individuals know how to do this math. The future of industrial technologists depend on it.
 
Oh and the next time you meet a maintenance man, take a moment and thank them for all they do to keep things running smoothly in the buildings you work in. They tend to be unsung heroes in my book.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

How do I prepare my student to be a machinist when all I have is woodworking equipment?

Last year I had the privilege of being able to present at the Illinois Technology Education Conference in October. At the time I was working for a mid size manufacturing company developing their training program for newly hired machinists. I was at the conference to present on some of the "skills gaps" that are widely talked about in industry. I wanted to let the Industrial Technology educators in Illinois know what problems I was experiencing and what I was having to spend time training employees on in order to get them to be able to set-up and operate the companies CNC machines.
My purpose here in writing this is not to go into the perceived "skills gaps" that are out there but rather to discuss a very good question that one of these teachers asked me. Here is the question.
"I have several students in my industrial tech program but I only have woodworking equipment. I know that there is much more demand right now for metalworkers and a definite employment need so how can I best prepare my students for a possible career in a machine shop or metalworking trade?"

Great Question!

Here was my response.

There are a lot of similarities between woodworking and metalworking that can be used to prepare students. As an educator we have to work with the tools in our shops and try to build experiences for students that will help them make the connections between the relationships of the trades. Help students make those connections.

Make sure your student's have a firm grasp in dimensional measurements of both fractions and decimal equivalents. Woodworking may not require measuring with a micrometer or caliper, but if a student understands that the fractional 1/16" notch on a tape measure has the decimal equivalent of .0625 inches than that student will be a step ahead and be able to learn how to read a micrometer and the physical relationships between size and numbers on the measuring tool a lot easier. If you really want them to be outstanding than teach them that there is a correlation as well with the size of a 1/16" radius or 1/16"chamfer that they put on a board using the router table. Force the students to hold that size on their workpiece to practice and get a feel for precision.

Teach them the names of and how to properly use hand tools. What's the difference and when to use a claw hammer, ball pein hammer, mallet or dead blow hammer? A file is not a saw, don't use it like one. Basic knowledge on the rake angles, number of teeth and pitch of saw blades will later translate into and help make it easier to understand rake angles, number of teeth and pitch of cutting tools like drills, end mills and insert cutters.

Teach them a little bit about different types of materials. Materials are different, wood is more forgiving than metal. Plastics cut easy but melt if your cutting tool gets to hot. Machines are similar and used in much the same way for material removal. If your finished part or project measures 10"x6"x4", than you need to start out with material that is larger than 10"x6"x4". Allow enough material on each dimension for clean up but not too much because that would waste material and take more time to remove the material.

Teach them how to use a Drill and Tap chart and the basics of a screw for achieving mechanical movement and fastening. Let students know that their are fractional drills, letter drills and number drills in addition to the tap sizes. Again those fractional sizes are related here. Very few people know that screws come in standard sizes with a course pitch and fine pitch let alone all the metric sizes.

Teach them how to read a blueprint and the difference between front side, top side and right side views, even if its a simple drawing. Have students make the part shown in the blueprint out of a wooden block so they can start to visualize and see the part "inside" the rough material. If they remove one piece of material which causes them to not be able to hold the part for a future cut than have them cut another one because it material removal and the sequence one follows to remove that material is important.

These are just a few of the suggestions that I was able to think about at the time. There are many others as well if I had more time. Most importantly for any industrial technology teacher is to just tell students about these career choices. Many students might be interested in this type of hands on job but just have never been introduced to it.

What other ways can you think of for a teacher to use a high school woodworking program to prepare students for a possible career in the machine tool trades? I'd be interested in hearing about other ways that you are preparing students for careers in industry.

Friday, February 28, 2014

God's Will


I've never believed in the prosperity gospel.  God’s will doesn’t seem to me to occur instantly or immediately because we follow a set script based on our preconceived notions of the demands of an omnipotent God. To me it’s “feel good” theology, a way to bring people into the doors, promise His goodness and enrich our stores. Give your all to Jesus, he’ll give you so much more, yet it’s hard to believe this when you’re down on the floor.

The reality here in America is even when I feel I am "bad off", I realize that I still have it far better than most. I have food on the table, a house, fashionable clothes and friends to have over and play a good host. Yes, I have lots to be thankful for and plenty to boast, yet when things don’t go my way, I rue the day and cry out and complain and say, “God what a terrible day!” Than getting lost in thought and envy return to my selfish narcissistic ways. Where is God’s will in making me this way?

The reality is we as Christians are in a battle where the enemy uses deception and lies to try to convince us that we are inferiority in disguise. We “feel” inferior to the fashions and all of the trends, the money, the power, the fame, and the glory when it all ends. We “feel” inferior to the standards of school, and of work, and bring it all into our homes, to family obligations, and relationships, to church services and charity never truly understanding the real meaning of “What is God’s will”. We reject the standards as folly of fools, refusing a life that imposes some rules. Still we try to take away from the gleaning, restore our dignity and show our pride never letting on, we are hurting inside.

From James 1, we count it all joy when we fall into trials and the testing of faith brings patience it seems. Yet we are still faced with our materialism and the draw that it pulls, backing us into the vortex as it sucks us down into those feelings of inferiority that return to pull you down deeper because you don't have the American Dream, a house and a fortune so large you could scream. But what is missing? What trial has really been faced? It’s a trial of delusion, of insignificance, the elimination of our pride and public disgrace? Have you been hungry or hopeless or tortured or just fallen from grace?

But it's more than just the materialism, perhaps at its root is the meaning of one's life and what direction it takes. Can I as individual ever really know what impact I may have had in putting on my show? I could look back at what may be perceived as the negatives: the loss of a father at age 8 and remember 2 boys being told they have to be the men in the family now. Oh what a terrible burden to put on a child's shoulder. Childhood lost and a thing in disorder, this family is broken, is it what God ordered? Moving to different locations, attending 3 different high schools, attempting to make friends in each, no complaints though, life is a peach. A drop out in college due to self-inflicted problems, was God’s will found while I stumbled around?

Happiness gained in a marriage and then, for one of the spouses medical issues means an inability to have children it seems. Then joy and excitement at finding out that there will be a child and all is right. Yet there is scared nervousness when the baby is born, he’s 2 lbs 12 oz. and hardly the norm. I walk through the NICU and daily I see our pride and our joy, sometimes he stares back at me.  I notice the baby next to him yesterday is not there today and wonder “Where could God’s will in this be?” while crying and praying each night as I leave, that he will still be alive when I come back in the morning with a wife clinging to my sleeve.

Happiness returns when he finally comes home, a loving mom pampers and gives ever more. Than bliss is shattered as you learn of the cancer and are afraid of what is in store. It’s a 3 year fight as you watch helplessly and can do nothing as Cancer wreaks havoc on the spouse that you love. God’s will belongs to only the angels above. Standing strong and thanking God when he finally relieves her suffering and then feeling guilty because you felt relief when she died. You crawled into yourself, to hide when you cried. Facing depression at the bottom of a bottle until you woke up to see smiling eyes and realize what was being neglected in the 3 year old that she left behind. God’s will was it whispered until it was heard coming down through the hills. Was that nudge that was felt meant to be or was it just wishful thinking by me?

New found joy once again and riding new highs, while leaving the past behind and moving on with a sigh. A new house, a finished college degree, marriage to another that loves unconditionally. The start of a business, a lifelong dream, achieved minor success, expansion and more. Blending families together and adding number 4. The economy tanks and business heads south. God’s will in this life of divine providence, I wish it would all just make some sense. Financial ruin and bankruptcy loom. Again those feelings of failure and voices say you’re inferior.

Impacting of lives and other families as you give employees the bad news, blame it on the economy, you’ve got nothing lose or so it may seem it’s time to escape from this scene. A new job awaits one that seems perfect to you. You can make a difference, you can be you. First year goes well; you help people that are new. Than they are let go and you are left with nothing to do, but try to help those that want nothing to do with you. Finally the axe falls and you’re shown to the door. Thank you for your service but we don't need you anymore.

Don't worry, we'll make it, we will be fine but the kids they don't like it and don't want to be seen with a loser they think is mean. He's old and he's clueless, Ugh knows how it seems, to be held accountable for all the wrong things. Nobody is watching and nobody cares about what went on in the past to show them love or how many times he tried giving a hug. Rejected and lonely and desperate he seems, God’s will for his family he has no clue what it means. No matter the past when he just wanted to make them happy and give them a home full of joy, replace the loss of their father with the gift of his love. Yet it never did happen, it was all just a big thud and no one is happy and everyone screams and children grow up too fast in this modern day world where everything can be viewed on a screen.

Others have crumbled and failed to see, what is God's will in all of this for me? Some become bitter and angry and mean. Is that what I'm destined to be? Others are watching and what should they see? I've had my Job like struggles. I've had enough can't they see? I cry out again in anguish, “Lord what does it all mean?” What is your purpose and where do I fit in to this lowly old life made up of mice and men? I feel destined for greatness yet here I am, chafed and quenched and blown by the wind.

Never give up, Never Give UP! The battle isn't over, it's only begun. Who am I just a little minion? No, a child of the King! Those words are not words he doesn't whisper that to me. Why in my life is it meant to be, meaning expressed over the century? Why not right now in this very moment while I’m here, I wait patiently for something to appear. Whether wrong or right I continue this fight. What more can be done? What more do you expect from your saints and your Son?

I'm trying to count the blessings. Naming them one by one, but when it's a struggle it sure not much fun. I'll never give up. I know my struggles are part of God's plan, His will perhaps I’ll never understand. I'm not in his inner circle yet, I'm only a mortal man. Perhaps his will has nothing to do with me? Were others watching what I would do? What impact I had in continuing to look up to YOU? Would I collapse, would I give up the fight? Or would I continue to try to make it alright? I keep the faith, I fight the good fight, rewards are not meant to fulfill me in life.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Thank you Sam Petrucci for Activating a Generations Imagination and Rest In Peace.

You may not recognize the name Sam Petrucci but chances are if you were a boy growing up in the 1960's or 1970's he left a mark on your life.

Sam was born in 1926 and joined the Navy in World War II which qualifies him in my mind as a Real American Hero but in fact for most of us we wouldn't ever really know him from being a World War II veteran although being a veteran in that war definitely prepared him for what his claim to fame would eventually become.

Sam was an artist and an illustrator you're probably familiar with although you may have never recognized any of his artwork. And the chances are that you will probably never see his work in any art museum. I'm pretty sure that the art critics are never going to recognize his work and the Louvre in Paris will not be requesting his artwork to go on display even though the collection of his work has certainly touched two generations and countless numbers of men and mothers just as much as a Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, Van Gogh's Starry Night or Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party.

So where do you know Sam Petrucci from and why is it important for me to mention him in this blog about toys? Well if you ever played with G.I. Joe as a kid than you saw his artwork in the past. In fact at one time you could walk into any toy store or toy aisle and see a gallery of his artwork. Yes Sam is credited with designing the G.I. Joe logo of the 1960s and also worked for Hasbro designing a lot of the artwork that was part of the packaging to help sell G.I. Joe, our greatest american toy hero.

Most people don't pay too much attention to boxart on the consumer goods that we buy, yet that artwork certainly impacts are buying decision. Sam's boxart brought thrilling adventure and excitement to the packages of pieces that made us boys from the 60s and 70s want to continue to buy and get more of G.I. Joe's equipment of all types. Guys growing up in the 60s were thrilled with the art of the action soldier, marine, sailor and pilot. The images on the box captured our attention and had us ready to take our GI Joes on any type of military adventure that we wanted to create in the backyard. My generation in the 70s were thrilled with the Secret of the Mummy's Tomb or finding out the Fate of the Troubleshooter and lots of other packages that had captivating art that helped feed my mind full of more adventures. It was Sam's G.I. Joe box art that inspired us boys to go on many backyard adventures.

Now I'm sure that nobody at the time thought much more about that artwork that was being commissioned other than would it sell the product in the box. I'm pretty sure that no one at Hasbro really thought much about the impact that it would have on influencing two generations of children. But it did! Sam's box art not only helped in encouraging us boys to talk our mothers into allowance money to buy our favorite action figure but it also encouraged our imagination and helped to take us to worlds that this small town central Illinois boy never dreamed were possible in the confines of his space and reality. While my natural world was filled with corn stalks,soybeans and hay bales, with G.I. Joe when I looked at the package art I could instantly go to the tropical Sierra desert or down the river Congo and to any other place that my imagination could take me when I got home and opened the package.

Sam's artwork helped to fuel ones imagination to even greater heights and even off world as seen through a toy Astronaut Figure and his Space Capsule. So I want to say thank you to Sam who I consider a great American icon in and of himself. I only had the privilege to meet Sam once in person at a convention. I just shook his hand and told him that I liked his art. Today I want to thank him for more than just his art. I want to thank him for helping to inspire and feed my imagination with art that helped to transport me beyond the cornfields in the farms of my youth and propel me forward into the amazon jungles and space-age missions to mars and all the other jet setting adventures that only exist in the active imagination of a 10-year-old boy.

Many people don't understand why so many grown adults flock to G.I. Joe conventions and have vast collections of our favorite poseable action figure, but it's because you and your artwork helped to inspire so many of these boys imaginations and their growth and development as they turned from boys into men. Many people don't realize the impact that a toy has on children and future generations. Sam's life work made an impact and touched many lives even though many probably will never know it. Thank you Sam, you have been a part of inspiring the imaginations of many generations and I wanted to give you this tribute. Rest in peace Sam.
America and her children truly lost an icon in the toy industry this week.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Helping Children Grieve at Christmas

I received an email a couple of days ago asking if Bee Active Toys would be willing to make a donation to a local firefighters family for Christmas. The firefighter lost his battle with cancer at age 33, 2 weeks ago and left behind 3 children ages 7, 5, and 2. Last week an old high school friend had posted on Facebook about how one of her students had just lost her mom to cancer as well. The last Christmas my brother and I had with our dad was in 1977, Stephen was 10 and I was 7. Our dad died from cancer when we were kids too. Cancer sucks! I HATE CANCER, but that is not really what this post is about. This post is about helping the children who have to grieve at Christmas.

The woman collecting the items came in and I brought her into the back of the store. I told her, "I'm not donating any toys to the children right now. First off, I have had 4 different groups ask me about donating for this family already, so I know that the children will have many things." Adults feel great sympathy for what the children have lost and as adults, we seem to want to make up for it sometimes by giving the kids other things to help them "forget" their sadness. It's a normal thing adults do as they try and help kids ease the pain they feel. Especially when it happens so close to Christmas. Next I explained to her that I was going to give the family something they needed more than toys, but I needed to explain why because people who have never gone through it wouldn't understand.

For the children: The book "Lifetimes" I bet I have read it over 1000 times to my own 3 year old little boy. The book "I'll Always Love You" because one never forgets.
For the remaining parent: the book "Guiding Your Child Through Grief" because it's hard for a parent to grieve the loss of a spouse and still help their child too.
For the other adults in the children's lives: "What Children Need When They Grieve: The Four Essentials: Routine, Love, Honesty, and Security"

Clayton and I lost our Diane to cancer on Dec. 14, 2002 when she was 32. Trish, Mike and Abby lost their Ed earlier that same year too, so this always touches close to home for us. I had the benefit of being able to talk with Diane quite a bit about what she wanted for Clayton that year. One of the things she wanted, was for us not to lose faith in the joy and wonder of Christmas and to keep celebrating. She always loved Christmas. Her favorite Christmas picture was a picture of Clayton at 1-1/2 with a screwdriver in his hand, laying underneath the Christmas tree with me as I was trying to screw train tracks down to the platform holding our tree. Of course, keeping the joy in Christmas was not always easy for me to do those first couple of Christmas' and I imagine that deep down, I still sometimes cringe a little around the 14th of December, but I always remember and it brings a different meaning to our Christmas each year as we take out the ornaments, bake the cookies, and put the Angel on our tree.

This year has definitely been a tough one for Bee Active Toys and I don't know what the future will be but I am constantly reminded that there is a reason for every season, even if that reason was to provide some books to help 3 little innocent children grieve this Christmas. Christmas is a truly wonderful time of year and it is my hope that we adults will help our children with all of their needs, even when sad and bad things happen. I hope that these children are given the right guidance so that their loss at this time of year, will never overshadow the Joy that the Season can bring if we let it.

Never underestimate the power you have to make a difference. People may not realize it at the time and you probably won't be recognized for it but you can make a difference.

Merry Christmas Friends! And Peace to all!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bee Active Toys Makes a Donation to the Center for Women in Transition in Champaign

Yesterday I had the privilege of taking a whole lot of toys up to the Center for Women in Transition in Champaign. The center provides housing and other services to Women and Children that have been dislocated or are in need of shelter for a variety of reasons. It is a very worthwhile charity doing good things and helping out women and children in need. If you would like to know more about the center, visit their website at http://www.cuhomeless.com/.
Between June2010 – July 2011, the center has housed 51 women and 52 children who were homeless as well as 88 women and 93 children who needed shelter from domestic violence.

We decided to donate toys to the Center this year for a several reasons.

1. Trish and I have both been single parents raising young children on our own in the past and know what it is like to be alone with children. I consider myself very fortunate however to have had a good job, steady income and a home of my own as a single parent and I never had to worry about where my child was going to sleep, what he was going to eat or if he was going to be safe from harm. The women that the Center provides for are not as fortunate as I was. I can’t even imagine what these children’s lives have been like. I do however remember what it was like to have to help my child deal with trauma and grieve.

2. Our church challenged us to participate in the Radical Experiment. One part of the Radical Experiment is to sacrifice your money for a specific purpose. Now Trish and I are by no means well off. In fact, with the way the economy has been over the last few years, being a local, independent Toy Store has been quite challenging in today’s retail environment when competing against all the big box chain stores and the even bigger Goliath called Amazon. I really don’t know what the future for our little toy store will be. We still however, have more than we need and enough to share as well. Especially when sharing with young children who need the power of positive playthings and we have the toys that can encourage, inspire and activate their little imaginations.

3. Having a Master’s Degree in Technology, I’ve been fascinated with the whole social networking thing. In the last month I watched another local retailer grow 1000 new Facebook fans on their page through a contest where someone was going to win something from their store. I wondered if Bee ActiveToys Facebook page would gain new fans, not by giving anything away to the fans but by giving away to a charity and so we put it on Facebook that we would make a $1 donation in toys for every new “like” we received. I didn’t want my customers to pay anything for the donation. I just wanted them to like our page and we would donate $1. Trish and I had already decided to make a donation no matter how many likes we received. We received 224 new likes to our Facebook page and I lost count of all the likes we had on all of our different postings about our donation.

So those were the reasons I wanted to help out one of our local charities, now let’s talk about what all we donated for these kids to play with, because I really am a kid at heart and for me it is all about playing with our toys. I handpicked toys that would be fun for these children to play with but would also benefit the children’s growth and development as well.

For infants there is the following: Alex Toys Mix N Max Yum Yum Teether, Peek & Stack cups, Green Toys Stacker, Educo Double Bubble bead maze, Baby Face Orchestra, Ambi Toys Lock a Block, Tiny Love Tummy Time Fun, Ambi Toys Focus Pocus, Beado, Educo Spring-A-Ling and Melissa & Doug Toolbox Fill and Spill.

For Pre-school or early elementary aged kids: Tumble Tree Timbers, Playmobil Animal Nursery, Illini Football Guys, Melissa & Doug Cowgirl, Queen, Pirate, King and Knight Puppets, 2 Different Sticky Mosaics, Melissa & Doug Chef and Train Engineer Role Play Set, ZipBin Wheelies playmat and carry case, Safari toys Rainforest, River, Horse, and Monkeys & Apes Toobs, Melissa & Doug Wooden Doughnuts and Bake & Serve Brownies, North American Bear Company Hansel and Gretel Pop Up Cloth Playsets.

Kids need and love puzzles so there was: Educo Emergency Vehicles and Wild Animals peg puzzle, Melissa & Doug Rain Forest, Children of the World, Under the Sea floor puzzles, Shark, seaside stallions and other 100pc and 500 pc puzzles, Curious George Mood Puzzle, plus several wire puzzles and Thinkfuns Zig-Zag Knot to challenge the older kids.

Everyone likes to play games, they now have: Blue Orange Games Trigger, Spot It, and Fastrack, Domino Express, Mastermind Animal Towers, Spongebob Mastermind Towers, Chimp & Zees Dinosaur Whirl, Dinosaur Train Pop n’ Race, Thinkfuns Zingo and Smart Mouth, Goliath Games Rolit Classic, Hooey, Rats, Slap Dragon, Swap!, and 99 or Bust card games, Toss up! Dice game, and BANANAGRAMS!

And last but not least we had to throw in 6 cute stuffed animals as well.

So there you have it. I hope the kids that the Center for Women in Transition helps out get a lot of fun and enjoyment out of playing with all of these items. It was and is wonderful to be able to share our toys with these children. Thank you everybody for reading and following along as we made this donation.

In Memory of Edward Thomas King (July 28, 1959-Aug. 13, 2002) and Diane Arnold Curry (March 13, 1970 – Dec. 14, 2002)