By Colton Snook
MIDDLEBURG — Toys for Tots is a foundation whose mission statement is to “collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November, and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.”
Just a few weeks ago, Mr. Dietz, a shop teacher at Midd-West High School, decided it would be a good idea to help out. He decided to have his first-period woodworking II class mass produce over 100 wooden trucks to give to the foundation in time for Christmas. With this decision came a lot of hard work and planning for everyone. There were 13 students doing this project, myself included. Most of Mr. Dietz’s other classes all helped out with sanding and staining. It took a lot of work and full cooperation to get this done, but we all worked together to complete the task.
In order to do this, there was a lot of work that needed to be done. First, we got split into partners. Each set of partners was assigned to a task or two. We drew up plans and a map of all the steps it would take to get the finished product. Once everyone was split up, assigned jobs, and understood their job, we went to our machines. Some of the steps in our process were ripping 2x4s, chopping ends, drilling holes, cutting out wheels, and so on. Now, one thing we learned with mass production is that every cut, every measurement, and every dimension, on every part, should be the same. Every part should be identical, so on each machine we put what we call a jig, an item that secures all the pieces nice and tight to the machine. Once you get the jigs in place, then you’re good to cut, drill, or measure, and every piece will be the same. Once we had all the jigs in place, we used practice pieces to make sure all the measurements were correct. When we were sure everything was accurate, we got started. It took us about a week of physical work and a few days of planning, but we finally got everything assembled. After that came a lot of sanding, review, sanding, and review. Finally, after the trucks had been stained, when we had looked at all of them and made sure they were all acceptable, we were finished.
One special addition to the trucks was the use of the school’s CNC Router. CNC is Computer Numerical Control. A computerized router, which is a very expensive piece of equipment, was used to engrave images on the sides of the trucks reading “The Mustang Express.” Having a piece of equipment like this at our school is indispensable; we can use it to engrave or carve onto just about any project. Not many schools get the chance to have a machine that does anything like this, so we are all very thankful for it.
It had taken some hard work and planning, but we all learned a lot through this experience. We learned how to get work done fast when necessary and to plan and set goals for what needs to get done. It also gave us a good outlook on mass production and how many little jobs go into the big job of getting a project done. If any of us ever end up going to a factory and need to mass produce, now we have a little bit of an idea of what it’s like.
It was a good experience for me, because I got to do a project in which I was helping people and I could have fun doing something I like at the same time. I talked to Mr. Dietz about why he chose to pursue this in the first place, and he said that he was in the Christmas spirit and he wanted to help out. He also said it would give us a good outlook on manufacturing a project and it would teach us to give back to the community. I think I speak for all of us when I say it was a pleasure doing this project and we’re glad to help. Thanks to all of the students and, most of all, Mr. Dietz for making this happen.