GREENFIELD – Woodwork wasn’t just for the elves this holiday season.
In fact, when Bill Redmon delivered hand-carved toys and goodies to Harris Elementary School students, it was nothing short of magical.
“It was magical because they just grinned from ear to ear and it was really neat to watch them,” said Principal Sarah Greulich. “They would come up and say, ‘Thank you. I feel so special’ and gave him a hug. I saw such kindness in the response of the students and how they received the gifts.”
Redmon, a retired transportation director for Greenfield-Central Schools, is finding plenty of time in his retirement to pursue his hobby and join Central Indiana Woodworkers. He worked with Harris school officials to launch a program to bring woodcrafts into the school for learning and for rewards.
In December, he delivered wooden animal puzzles and alphabet learning toys to students with special needs. He also brought hand-made pencil boxes to Harris students who were being celebrated for making great choices and showing improvement, Gruelich said.
“We weren’t sure how the students were going to respond to it because we live in the age of devices,” Greulich said. “But they saw and sensed the personalness of it, and even though they didn’t know how to put it into words, their smiles really painted the picture.”
Redmon, who worked with G-C schools 27 years and retired in 2016, said he got the idea from another Central Indiana Woodworkers club doing a similar program in Seymour. Several of his club members donated to the project, and it went over so well he’s hoping to bring more next semester.
Best of all, he said, he got to interact with the children. One boy said, “Can you make me a friend?”
“I said, ‘oh no, well I can’t make you a friend but I can be one.’”
Another asked Redmon if he could make something for his mother for Christmas. Redmon was happy to oblige, and came back days later with a hand-crafted wooden vase complete with flowers for the child to give to his mother.
Redmon enjoyed working with Greulich and school Counselor Katie Hall to identify students to be rewarded through the PAWs program, which stands for positive thinking, acting responsibly, working together and showing respect.
Redmon is married to Donna, a retired Maxwell Intermediate School secretary. The couple has two children, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He’s eager to return in the spring with more gifts for Harris children.
“To see their faces was exciting, it was so exciting,” he said.
To learn more about Central Indiana Woodworkers, visit ciww.org.