ROY -- A new branch of Santa's elves has set up shop at Roy High School.
The elves evidently infiltrated the school disguised as students and, for the past few weeks, have been spending time in class and after school designing, cutting, painting and assembling wooden toys for needy kids.
The project is the brainchild of first-year woodshop and metals teacher Eric Schiess, who wanted to find a way for students to give back to the community.
Now, with fewer than 10 days before Christmas, 30 wooden rocking horses and 125 wooden cars are almost ready to be delivered to the Children's Justice Center and the McKay-Dee Hospital Foundation.
Faculty members at Roy High have also purchased toys, and a check for $50 will be presented to each organization, Schiess said.
"It isn't a lot, but it's something, and we have been able to involve everyone," he said. "I hope this can grow each year and be something students can look forward to."
The students have considered it a privilege to take part in this charitable endeavor.
"It's cool to help the kids out," said Cameron Golding, a senior.
The project was funded with roughly $150 that Schiess collected by selling soda and candy bars, along with a little help from the school.
More than 35 students filed into the school woodshop after school Tuesday to participate in the project.
Many of the wooden pieces were already cut and needed to be assembled. Other pieces required sanding. A third group was poised with paintbrushes.
With the students gathered 'round, Schiess demonstrated how to hammer the wheels into the red and blue cars, which were designed by students in his advanced woodshop class.
When each toy is completed, a card with a personal message from a student will be attached.
Brandon Day, a junior, was working on the rocking horses a few tables away.
He teamed up with Schiess early in the process in order to do his Eagle Scout project. Brandon helped organize tasks for the students and taught machinery safety, among other things.
More than 70 hours of labor have been devoted to the project so far, Schiess said, with zero accidents.
"This project is the definition of what you should be doing during the holidays," Brandon said as he adjusted his safety glasses.
"Any way you can help make others feel good. The little things can make a big difference. We're starting a new tradition."