Tamworth Men's Shed: Athol Latham makes toys for Operation Christmas Child

HELPER: Tamworth Community Men's Shed member Athol Latham. Photo: Peter Hardin
HELPER: Tamworth Community Men's Shed member Athol Latham. Photo: Peter Hardin

HE’S ABOUT as close to Santa as Tamworth gets.

Granted he’s beardless and doesn’t travel in a sleigh, but Athol ‘Gepeto’ Latham has been busy making his list and checking it twice.

The Tamworth Community Men’s Shed member is making plenty of toy kits for disadvantaged little boys and girls.

“A lady from the Samaritans in Tamworth approached us about their Christmas box,” he said.

“There’s probably close on 100 kits all up.

“I like the enjoyment of doing it and knowing someone else is going to get benefit and enjoy what I’ve done.”

The boxes will go to Samaritan’s Purse Australia’s Operation Christmas Child, that distributes gift filled shoe boxes to children in developing countries.

Many of the children visited by the project volunteers have never received a Christmas present before.

Cutting, sanding, oiling and painting the wood, Mr Latham has recruited little helpers from Tamworth nursing homes to put the kits together.

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“Our aim is to put together a kit with all the pieces required, take them down to the retirement or old people’s homes and have them put it together,” he said.

“It’s a bit of occupational therapy for them.

“As soon as the lady came up and mentioned what they were doing everyone immediately looked over to me, so I’m the toy maker.”

And, it’s not the first time Mr Latham has been caught making toys.

Joining the men’s shed in May, his first project was to fix old wooden toys for the Tamworth Toy Library.

He hopes to have the Operation Christmas Child toys finished by Christmas, perhaps, his beard and sleigh will be ready by then too.