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Toys For God’s Kids

Not every child has the luxury of owning a toy, however, John and Mary Jager are determined to help change that.

This energetic, retired couple lives in Holland, Michigan and in the last three years they have built 25,000 wooden toy cars in their garage. Along with 280 others around the country, they use their free time to create these small wooden cars for an organization called Smile Makers, developed back in 2000 by a friend in Colorado.img_1219img_1225

Some days the couple spends six to eight hours working on the cars, taking it step by step toward the final product.

“Aw man, we never knew retirement could be so fun!” Mary explained.

Both John and Mary treat it like a full-time job and every winter they follow the same process:

“We draw them on the wood and then we drill the holes for the axles and then drill holes for windows then we cut them out. [The cars] go on a router and [John] route[s] the edges out,” Mary said.

The wheels come next, about 100,000 have been created over the course of the three years they have been involved in this organization. Once the cars have all the pieces needed each one is dipped in a material to complete the process.

“The material we dip them in is food safe so if the kids suck on them they’re not going to get hurt,” John added.

They explained that these toy cars go all over the world. John and Mary might be behind the scenes building, but they are certainly making an impact. John shared how some children reacted when given the cars.

“Our pastor said they went to Cambodia and would hand them a Christmas box and they’d take something out of it and hand the box back because they didn’t know how to accept a gift. You have to tell them it’s okay this is yours, you can keep it,”

That’s when Mary began to draw and cut out animals as well as the cars. The couple said it would make it easier to relate to for some kids.(Some of them have never seen a car.)

The organization has grown in the last 16 years, reaching one million cars a year ago.

“I don’t know, you would think you’d get bored with it, but we don’t. It just is so gratifying,” John said.

Their selfless attitude has brought joy to boys and girls all over the world who are less fortunate.Both of them agreed, while it costs them money to make the cars, it’s their donation to give to the kids, something definitely worth their time.

“We’ve put a smile on a child’s face,” Mary said.

Anybody can get involved in Smile Makers and contribute to helping children everywhere enjoy this simple, yet meaningful gift.

For more information, check out The Toys For God’s Kids website!


Thank you to John and Mary for meeting with me and sharing their passion.You are both doing a wonderful thing that is impacting so many! You’re an inspiration to me, and I hope now to others as well.