Elves in College of Technology create toys for children 

  Monday, November 19, 2018 8:00 AM
  News, Science and Technology, Giving Back

Pittsburg, KS

PSU elves make Christmas toys

The North Pole has temporarily relocated to the Kansas Technology Center, and about 15 elves came along. 

This week, they were putting finishing touches on 96 wooden toys — gluing, sanding the edges, ensuring wheels moved properly — that will be given to the local Toys for Tots chapter, which in turn will distribute them to children in need just in time for Christmas. 

Toys for Tots, a program run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, directly impacts more than 1,500 Southeast Kansas children, collecting toys, books, and stocking stuffers from individuals and businesses that are then given away each December during the Salvation Army Christmas Distribution at the National Guard Armory just across the street from the KTC. 

Locally, Toys for Tots is coordinated by (Ret.) Master Gunnery Sgt. Lynden Lawson, a 2012 graduate of the PSU Human Resource Development program, and his wife, Kris Lawson, an assistant professor in History, Philosophy, and Social Sciences. 

The elves working in the shop look very, very similar to Pittsburg State University students who are members of the PSU Society of Architectural Woodworkers.  

The majority of them are pursuing degrees in Architectural Manufacturing Management and Technology, previously known as Wood Tech, through the College of Technology. The nationally unique program turns out graduates who often have job offers before their caps and gowns. 

Elves 1

The head elf is Chris Wernimont, a sophomore who in addition to AMMT is pursuing two additional majors in Marketing and in Management through Kelce College of Business. 

“I was inspired to come here by my high school shop teacher, Darren Masten, who is a PSU grad. He always talked about how great this program is and the high-level management jobs that it can prepare you for,” said Wernimont, who graduated from Blue Valley Northwest High School. 

It was Masten who also inspired the wooden toy project. 

“He had us make them in our high school shop class for Toys for Tots, and I thought it would be a good idea for our group to take it on here,” said Wernimont, whose goal is to start his own business. “I suggested it to the other members, and they agreed.” 

Elves 3

Wernimont learned how to use drafting software over the summer and familiarized himself with using a CNC machine that could replicate parts for what would become an assembly line-like process. 

“In high school, we had to make each part by hand on a bandsaw, but here, the equipment is amazing,” Wernimont said. 

The group worked in the afternoons and evenings to complete 48 toy trucks and 48 toy motorcycles. 

“For kids to have something like this that can become a keepsake — not just a toy they discard — is great,” Lawson said. “That students would think of doing this, then take it on and make it happen, is outstanding.” 

Wernimont said the student group is proud of their achievement for two reasons. 

“We wanted to get the AMMT name out there in a positive way, and we wanted to help kids have a nice Christmas,” he said. “I'm really glad we could make both those things happen.”