Wooden toys made by prisoners in Whanganui Prison are bringing Christmas cheer to children in Whanganui Hospital’s Children’s Ward.

A cabinet holding 30 assorted wooden coloured toys including racing cars and jeeps were made from leftover wood in the prison joinery by men working towards their New Zealand Certificate in Furniture Level 2.

The toys were then painted in bright colours by another group of prisoners.

From left: Darren Kelly, Dawn Benefield, Briar Woods, Ellie Bowen, David Montgomery and Naomi Archer.

“It’s been a great project for prisoners to work on,” says Dawn Benefield, Whanganui Prison’s Industry Manager.

“The men in the joinery workshop are used to making large items like furniture as part of their National Certificate, so working on something much smaller has given them a good test of their skills. It’s also given the men in another unit who did the painting an opportunity to make a positive contribution to the community.

“In total, seven men have been involved in making and painting the toys.

“Many of the men have children of their own, so they know what Christmas means to kids. They hope the toys will bring some joy to children during their stay in hospital,” says Dawn.

Paediatrics Service Clinical Nurse Manager Janene Louwrens received the toys on Friday knowing how excited children on the ward would be when they saw them.

“We’re absolutely delighted with this gift,” Mrs Louwrens said. “The toys and cabinet are beautifully made and a credit to the men who spent hours working on them. I want to extend a huge thank you to Dawn and the prisoners responsible.”

Shane* who cut the wooden toys into the vehicle shapes said he enjoyed making them because he knew “wherever they were donated the children were going to love them”.

Ian* who painted some of the toys said he has “thoroughly enjoyed it and long may it continue.  The kids are going to love them”.

*not their real names