Small Town News


Cheney Chipsters give back to the community

Cheney Free Press of Cheney, Washington

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About two years ago when the wood shop at the Cheney Care Center became usable, a new group was formed by the name of the "Cheney Chipsters." Members of this group consist of residents from the Cheney Care Center.

The Chipsters come together once a week to make wooden toy trucks for kids. The trucks are sent to kids in hospitals and children that live overseas, who may have not received a toy truck before. The McDonald's Shiners have also received trucks from the group to help kids around the country.

People who made this group possible were Roy Behm, Ted Ham, Cliff Gresham, Dwyane Paul, Jack Martin, Keith Fauerso, Antaoliy Kushnerchuk and Neal Straum. The wood shop was created and authorized by the Care Center board of directors.

The members of the Chipsters have increased throughout the years. Besides those listed above, the group has also included Goerge Berdis, Bill Dibert, Gus and Pat Hall, Carol Sands and Dave Daugharty. The current president is Paul, who took over when the club's previous president, Ted Ham, passed away. There were many reasons why the shop was created. The include to provide a facility for use by the Care Center residents, to make use of the tool and shop space and to ultimately make the shop available to supporting the Cheney Community and to produce, with volunteer labor and talent, products of interest and value to the community at large.

The first project was inspired from a presentation by the Spokane HOO HOO group, who invited the Chipsters to volunteer their time with a production of the toy wooden truck that was carried by missionaries to Third World children.

Some wood for the trucks is purchased from Woodcraft in Spokane Valley. The Chipsters also receive donations of scraps from duplex builders and donations from West Plain Building. The only supplies bought from outside the state are the wheels put on the trucks, which are purchased from Texas.

With the development of the club, caregiver Vickie Amstatz formed a group of women who are now a part of the process with being able to paint and decorate the wooden trucks.

The painters are Vella Dow, Dot Hilyard, Melinda Richards, Karen Mensik, Pat Dillon, Bonnie Brady, Vicki May and Violet Hemenway. The creative painting includes camouflage, polka dots, bumblebee and zebrathemed trucks. The ladies are able to feed off of each other's creativity, which enables a really enjoyable atmosphere for everyone involved.

With making about 1,000 trucks a year, the Chipsters make their mark worldwide. A Cheney resident, George Grekel, travels to third World Countries and will bring suitcases of trucks made by the Cheney Chipsters to the children. Some of these trucks given to the kids are the first toys that they have ever received.

The process of building a truck requires about 12-steps. One individual truck takes about an hour to make and assemble for the residents. Some of the trucks donated are not assembled so that the kids are able to build their own toys.

With their success, the Chipsters have received other requests to produce, create, and remodel other projects around the facility as well.

"Giving back to the community and kids, now that is what it is all about," Paul said.

Grace Pohl can be reached at

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Original Publication Date: July 14, 2016

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