Florida man makes 1,000 wooden toy cars for kids in developing countries

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This Christmas, many of the toys kids hoped to see under the tree were high-tech items with high price tags.

Children in developing countries around the world, however, don't get presents at all. 

That's where Vincent Falini comes in. Using his woodworking skills, the Dunedin man is spreading the joy of Christmas, one toy at a time, all over the world.

Falini is a retired general contractor turned Santa's elf. After retirement, he started designing homes and then carved a path into woodworking.

He spends much of his time buzzing away in his backyard workshop.

It was the end of another company's construction project that laid down the blueprints for his own.

"They were throwing out three-foot pieces of this 3x3 oak," Falini said. "So, I used it and I started making cars with it."

He carved a few wooden cars here and a few there.

"My grandkids got cars first. I didn't know what to do with them," Falini said.

That's when a friend pointed him to Palm Harbor United Methodist Church. Each year, they pack thousands of toys, school supplies and hygiene items for Operation Christmas Child's Shoebox Project, sending holiday love to needy children in more than 130 countries.

"The cars have gone to Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras," Falini said.

Pretty soon, a hobby turned into a passion project.

"I've been making cars ever since," Falini said.

He salvages all the hardwood from a cabinet shop's leftovers. The only pieces he buys are wheels and axles.

He can make 14 a day and about a thousand a year.

"They're not plastic," Falini said. "They're not going to break. They're all glued together. They're made out of hardwood and they can use them outside cause I polyurethaned them so they can get wet and it won't matter. They'll still go."

Most toy makers don't get to see the little hands that play with their toys, but Falini does.

"She's got her car," Falini said as he flipped through photos sent back to him.

For the thousands of square feet Falini has helped build over the years, his tiniest design may be his most rewarding.

"Those kids from those countries, they have nothing," Falini said. "This is really a big deal for them. They call these machines. They deserve it, I think."

Falini hit his goal of 1,000 cars this year by November 7. The goal is to keep making at least 1,000 of the toy cars each year, as long as he can find the wood to work with.