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At a rate of 20 toys every week, they witness to children & families

SALEM, Ore. (BP)–At age 83, Charles Foland and wife Pat, 78, have given away more than 500 personally handcrafted toys in nearly three years as a ministry to children and families in the Salem, Ore., area.
Foland spends most of his days inside his modest wood shop crafting trains, planes, trucks, cradles and much more, producing an average of 20 toys a week.
“All my time is spent making toys unless I have to mow the lawn or something.” Foland chuckled.
The couple eat out two or three times each week and turn each meal into an opportunity to share their faith with children and families they meet in the restaurant.
When they see a child, they ask permission from the parents to give the child a toy, Pat Foland explained.
“Some people are suspicious and wonder what we’re up to when we say we want to give them something,” she said, “but then they’re pleased when they find out that we really do give these toys away.”
The Folands, longtime members at Capital Baptist Church in Salem, then ask the family if they attend church.
“If not, we invite them to ours, give them a church brochure and ask them if it would be all right for our pastor to visit them,” Pat Foland continued. “If they say yes, then I take down their name, phone number and address.”
During the summer months the Folands diligently spend about six hours each Saturday knocking on doors in neighborhoods surrounding their church, giving away toys and inviting families to church.
“A lot of people dread knocking on doors,” Pat Foland said, “but because we have something [toys] to give them, we really enjoy it!”
“Pat and Charles Foland are two of God’s choicest servants,” said Capital’s pastor, John Lipton. “They knocked on every door in our church neighborhood throughout the summer of 1998. Several prospect families were discovered and have begun sending their children to our Sunday school and worship services.”
To make the toys, Charles uses scrap lumber often given to him by various sources. “A lot of our lumber comes from Home Base,” he said. “Sometimes they just give it to us; sometimes we trade toys for lumber.”
Although the lumber is usually donated or purchased at a largely discounted price, the Folands still incur many out-of-pocket expenses, such as band-saw blades, tools, screws, glue, electricity and more.
“We do this for the Lord, whatever the cost, and that’s OK,” Pat Foland said.
For 23 years before retirement Charles Foland worked as a houseparent at McClaran School for Boys. Pat, formerly a licensed practical nurse for 17 years, also has written poetry, including the volume, “Moods of a Mountain.”

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  • Gini Moreau