COLUMBIA FALLS, Mont. -

Former Columbia Falls mayor Ed Toren retired from his job at a construction firm four years ago, and he’s been building hand-made wooden toys for Montana children ever since. This year, he built more than 200 toys for the Toys for Tots program. He says the hobby started out as an anonymous endeavor, but the secret slowly got out.

“I had one lady, who came up to me and after looking at what I had at the farmer’s market, gave me a  big hug and said thank you, that obviously, I was the one who had donated,” said Toren.  “She was a single mother of two boys…”

“I’ve often thought that when I retire that I would become a golfer or an enthusiast in one of the sports in the Valley, but I don’t," said Toren. "This is where I come, this is my relaxation.”

Toren spends roughly eight hours a day in his woodshop, crafting toys and other creations. He sells some wares at a local farmer’s market to support the operation.

“We don’t need publicity or recognition for the things we do. We do it because Christ said ‘Give.’”

Toren says he encourages folks around the Valley to tune into their own talents, and contribute in any way they can. 

Folks who wish to donate to Toys for Tots themselves can visit this site.