CREATED Nov. 27, 2012
Reporter: Justin Schecker
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - With one month to go until Christmas, it is crunch time for Santa Claus and a Tucson man is giving him a helping hand by running his own workshop.
Retired Air Force veteran Sammy Eggerman builds homemade wooden planes, trains and automobiles in his garage.
"The time's free, the wood's free and I put it together and turn something that's a waste into useful products for people who need things," Eggerman told 9 On Your Side.
He collects the wood at the University of Arizona, where he is a lab assistant in the School of Architecture.
"We cleaned out the classrooms and threw away all this wood and I said we can't throw this away," Eggerman said, "so I brought it home and a friend of mine helped me and we spent one full day building 23 race cars."
Before last Christmas Eggerman donated those 23 cars to Casa de los Ninos. This year he's running a much bigger operation and over the past 10 months he's assembled nearly 160 toys.
"He figures little kids would really like a toy that's not going to break the first five minutes that you play with it, not like most of the plastic toys that they have nowadays," said Sunny Eggerman, Sammy's wife.
With a much larger selection of toys this year, the couple wants to donate them to a bigger charity. They tell 9 On Your Side the Marine Corps is expected to pick them up on Wednesday for Toys for Tots.
Eggerman is already stocking up on wood for his next batch of toys.
"It's a little Santa's factory," he said, "that's exactly what it is."