R.J. Scheffel Memorial Toy Project
16991 Old U.S. 27 Suite A - Lansing, Michigan ... Mailing Address: PO Box 23181, Lansing, MI 48909-3181
   Toy Makers for Disadvantaged and "In Crisis" Children

Our Motto: "People don't stop doing things because they get older;
They get older because they stop doing things."
 About Us
 Contact Us
 About Us

What Does the Toy Project Do?

The R. J. Scheffel Memorial Toy Project provides, without charge, wooden toys, memory boxes, and games, hand crafted by volunteers, for children who are disadvantaged, homeless, needy or in crisis. We are “Toy Makers” for disadvantaged children of Clinton, Eaton and Ingham Counties.

A majority of the toys are distributed in Lansing and the surrounding tri-county area. Lansing’s Salvation Army received and distributed 3,843 toys to needy families during December 2018. Approximately 40% of a year’s production goes to the Salvation Army. C. S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Gilda’s Club and Mary Free Bed Hospital in Grand Rapids are also recipients. 315 toy police cars were made for the Michigan State Police in the last 7 years plus 287 for the East Lansing Police Department in the last eight years. Ele’s Place in Lansing provides bereavement counseling to children and received 4,048 memory boxes for the past eight years. Ele’s Place now has locations in Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids and memory boxes are supplied to them too.

From 2001 through 2018, more than 143,000 wooden toys were built by the volunteers. In 2012, 10,269 toys were made, and this was the largest number for any one year in our project history. On July 30, 2013, the toyshop suffered a fire, and toy production was not resumed until January 2014 at this new location.


Rueben Jacob Scheffel was a retired grocer living on Rundle Street in the Colonial Village area of southwest Lansing. Wooden toy making for the neighborhood children began about 1959 and continued until his death in 1978 at age 89. Thereafter the Lansing area Kiwanis Clubs became involved and volunteers came aboard. Those details are unknown.


Santa's Elves carry on Mr. Scheffel's tradition of making toys. The 'Elves' come from very diverse backgrounds. Engineering: civil, design and mechanical engineers, 2 psychologists, a psychiatrist, informational technology and special insurance sales, an elementary school teacher, secondary education and high school basketball coaches, a retired high school shop teacher, a RN, a die sinker, production scheduler, a former Lansing police officer, an administrative law judge, an attorney, a fellow from Michigan Department of Transportation and various other backgrounds.

Several have a connection with Michigan State University: the former campus police chief (Director of Public Safety); Director of the Archives, Director of Alumni Career Placement, the MSU Counseling Center, former MSU's professors of landscaping, of crops & soil sciences. One gentleman is credited with the development of Controlled Atmosphere Storage for apples so that they are still crispy in the spring of the year.

None of the toys are sold; all toys are given to 30-32 local agencies to satisfy their 'Wish Lists'. They do the distribution. We have little contact with children.
There are no administrative costs. All volunteers donate their expertise and time to the toy project.

 R. J. Scheffel Memorial Toy Project
Board of Directors

  Gene Klco, President
General Motors-Design Manager, Retired & Toys Photographer & Webmaster & Toy Shop Volunteer
  Chris Costigan, Vice President

Retired & Toy Shop Volunteer

  Theresa Ebbinghaus, Secretary
Toy Shop Volunteer

  Ray Lemmen, Treasurer
 CPA in private practice - Retired

Members at Large
  Dave Borzenski
Retired, Deacon at St Therese Church
  Jim Dell

RSVP Coordinator
  Fred Hambly

 Retired Psychiatrist & Toy Shop Volunteer

 Barry Holcolm

 Major Nate Johnson
 Salvation Army
 Rich Martin

Toy Shop Volunteer

  Bob Scott

Retired from Michigan Department of Health & Human Services & Toy Shop Volunteer
  Bruce Smith
Retired from MSU in Information Technology

  Darryl Warnke

Toy Shop Volunteer

Team Leaders:

Chris Costigan - Back Room Coordinator
Larry Koster, Shipping Coordinator

 Toys ready for delivery to community agencies


Bylaws (as Amended in April 2008)

2022 R.J. Scheffel Memorial Toy Project