Denver TV station honors Winter Park couple with ‘Everyday Hero Award’
December 8, 2008
Denver’s Channel 7 News (KMGH) granted Santa’s toymakers of Winter Park, Diane Fischer and Bill Tucker, the “7 News Everyday Hero Award” recently, now airing on television.
“It was a total surprise,” Fischer said Monday.
A friend came by she and her husband’s home on Nov. 26 to say she had something to show the couple.
When Diane followed her downstairs to the home’s entryway, as many as 20 friends were standing there with a reporter and camera crew from 7 News.
“At first I thought it was the Verizon Wireless people,” Fischer said with a laugh.
Friend Marcia Walker of Granby had nominated Fischer and Tucker for their valuable contribution each year to families in need.
The couple annually handcrafts about 700 whimsical wooden toys, and with help from friends assembles, paints and stencils them into finished products. The group Grand Quilters also pitches in, making mattresses, pillows and blankets for doll beds. Grand Woodworks Inc. of Tabernash supplies the scrap wood.
The couple has just finished this year’s collection of bunk-bed doll beds, step stools, wheelbarrows, rocking horses and tool boxes.
It’s estimated that in the past 13 years of toymaking, the couple has given away nearly 10,000 toys that end up in the hands of wide-eyed children on Christmas morning.
They have never once sold a toy, they said.
The Mountain Family Center of Hot Sulphur Springs takes first pick of the toys for its annual Holiday Project for folks in need. The Marine Toys for Tots program in Denver receives the bulk of them, and many are saved for silent auctions that benefit charities such as the National Sports Center for the Disabled, Advocates of Grand County and the Creative Learning Center.
“It’s always a relief to get them done and out of the house to get our house back again,” Fischer said, “but it always feels good to make someone’s Christmas brighter. Especially this year because the economy is so tight.”
Channel 7 News Reporter Mitch Jelniker and his cameraman were given a tour of the completed toys stored throughout the couple’s home, as well as the work areas used to make the toys. The news crew’s 1.5-hour visit was condensed into a 1-minute segment, airing several times in December. Walker, who nominated the couple for the award, and friend Kay Rhoades of Winter Park are also featured in the segment.
Set to deliver 2008’s truckload to Toys for Tots this Wednesday, Tucker has already completed the rocking-horse heads for next year’s treasures ” working away in his woodworking room that was added on to their home a few years ago specifically for the annual toymaking project.
The retired couple says the project “adds a whole new meaning to our life.”
“We get the pleasure year-round and the kids get the pleasure on Christmas morning,” Fischer said.
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