We have a local homeless services organization, Committee on the Shelterless, or COTS, that's awesome. They're a group dedicated to real change, local landlords are clamoring for the graduates of their program, which starts by providing emergency shelter, and works with people until they can stand on their own. The vibe I get from many shelters and homeless services organizations is one of enabling, but I believe that COTS provides a basis for real change.
One of their programs, called Family Connection, takes families in transition from shelters to permanent housing and pairs them up with middle class folks to provide the extended family and support structure that many of these homeless moms and dads never had. One of the conditions is that those of us who volunteer to be the extended family are strictly forbidden from giving money to these families, in order to keep this from becoming an enabling situation. We're there to provide emotional support, occasional child care, and offer up our attitudes towards money, family and life expectations in the hopes that some of that can rub off and turn a life around.
Just because we can't give money doesn't mean we don't find ways to help in material ways, we keep our eyes out for stuff they need, and every once in a while will hit a garage sale, talk up the program, and say "so, it's two o'clock, you've been out here since 8, it's 95°, we have a family which needs a set of bunk beds. Any chance you'd want to make a deal?" And, yes, if that deal isn't quite "free", sometimes we'll forget that a few bucks changed hands.
In contrast to the folks I've met at COTS, I had an absolutely blessed childhood. We had ride-on toys from Community Playthings, solid maple that we beat the living daylights out of and they still survived, we rowed a boat that my grandfather had made for us around the pond in our back yard, and I have all sorts of fond memories of time various shops with my extended family making toys.
One of the things I've been keeping my eyes out for is a toddler ride-on toy that allows for steering. I'm also a fan of the Smile Bike like toys, I think young kids getting the balance thing down (and getting on two wheels from an early age!) is awesome. So in the back of my mind, and thinking "well, building toys in the shop is what extended family does, right?", I've been kind of thinking it'd be cool to put together such a thing.
Work has been a little slow, so yesterday I did the next glue-up on the kitchen cabinets, and was out cleaning out the shop when came across a few pieces of plywood I thought were too useful to throw out, but they were in the way. And then I remembered that I'd saved these wheels from somewhere... and a little estimating how big a 18 month old is, a couple of glue-ups and some 3/8" bolts later, this is what emerged from the shop.
Now I just need to find a toddler helmet for free...
And I might need to put one of those "walk along and hold the bike up" handles on this thing somehow.