For the students in Mr. Derma’s Custom Wood working class at Elmira District Secondary School, there’s a lot to learn from toys. Last November, as they do every year, 16 students designed and created wooden toys to give away to the community during the holiday season. In 2017, Sunbeam benefited from this fantastic student-led project, with the wooden toys given to our Kingsway location.
How Sunbeam was selected is a testament to the passion for community that this toy project manifests. During his 10 year career at Elmira District High School, Mr. Derma has volunteered in the Developmental Education Department. During his time there, he learned about how often donations to organizations working with children and adults with developmental disabilities are overlooked. After hearing about Sunbeam from a colleague in the department, Derma put forth Sunbeam as an option for the annual toy project. But this was a suggestion – after extensive research into and discussion about other organizations which could benefit from the project, the students collectively decided to give the toys to Sunbeam.
For Derma, the benefits for his students from such a toy drive are valuable beyond the classroom. To create and design a toy, Derma says, encourages, “… problem solving out of your seat.” Over the course of one month, the students actively work through the challenges and opportunities that come with creating a toy. Not only is the final result of the project a great toy, but for Derma, it’s the ability for the students to recognize and understand what it is like to create something with purpose and meaning. Being able to say, “I created this” and to see the benefits of that work in the community are two of the aspects that Derma loves about the project. These are incredible achievements for the students.
Once the final products were ready, Mr. Derma hand delivered the toys to our Kingsway location. Although he delivered them on his own, he was quick to share with us that the leaders of this project are truly the students. Their zest, creativity, and passion for Sunbeam has resulted in toys that will be played with and cherished by our clients.   
If you organization is looking to donate please connect with us about what is needed and/or on our wish list.  We appreciate all suggested donations and if we are not able to use them we will be happy to suggest other organizations that would benefit from your gifts.

Press Coverage
The Observer – EDSS student’s latest project is for the birds