Acts of Kindness
82-year-old Veteran has spent over 50 years making wooden Christmas toys for kids
Jim Annis knows what it's like to not get anything on Christmas. That's why he makes hundreds of hand-crafted toys each year and man are they top-notch.
D.G. Sciortino
12.02.21

Every year, for over 50 years, Jim Annis has been hand-making wooden toys for children.

He’s basically Sanford, North Carolina’s Santa.

The 82-year-old Army veteran does this to see the smile’s on the children’s faces.

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After all, he knows what it’s like to go without toys on Christmas.

“I grew up in a poor family, and I never got toys on Christmas,” Annis tells Walter Magazine. “So now I make toys for children who might not get anything either.”

His dad worked, but he didn’t make a lot of money. And that little bit of money doesn’t go far when you have five kids at Christmas time.

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Each year, Annis will make more than 350 wooden toys in his workshop that used to be his dancing studio where he taught clogging, a skill that’s won him many awards.

“God gave me my hands for crafting and my feet for dancing,” says Annis, giving the reporter a little shimmy in his shoulders.

He’ll spend hours cutting and sanding wood, painting, and putting his toys together.

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“I have my home, the main house, and he has his, the workshop,” his wife Elba Annis says

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He uses scrap wood from local homeowners and will spend about $1,000 of his own money on other supplies like shellac and paint to craft dolls, tractors, fire trucks, and piggy banks for children.

“I love when people ask me how much do I get paid for making these toys. I tell them my pay is when I see the smile on kids’ faces,” Annis told ABC 11.

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It’s a priceless gift.

It’s something that Annis says you can’t put a price on.

In addition to making toys, Annis also volunteers at the Salvation Army of Lee County.

He’ll spend his days dancing with children through the Joy for Others at Yuletide program or painting wooden trucks and cars with veterans at the Veterans Administration Hospital.

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A volunteer that just won’t quit

You’ll also find him working with firefighters at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center.

And like Santa, you’ll almost always see Annis with a box filled to the brim with toys to hand out to children or those in need.

“No one cheers up the kids as he does,” Elba Annis says.

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But the pleasure is all his.

“It fills my heart with joy,” he told the U.S. Army’s website.

And like Santa, Annis is working year-round to get his toys done by Christmas time.

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“I start making them as soon as Christmas is over,” he said. “It takes me awhile to make that many of them.”

Annis also started making wooden memorials with small folded U.S. flags for families who have lost family members to war.

Thinking about the cost of war and how it not only costs taxpayers (the proposed defense budget for 2022 is $753 billion dollars) but also costs the lives of their loved ones.

“I just wanted to let them know that someone appreciates the loved ones that they lost in combat,” he said.

And Annis has no signs of slowing down.

“I hope to be able to do this until my toes curl up!”

Learn more about “Santa” Jim Annis in the video below!

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By D.G. Sciortino
hi@sbly.com
D.G. is a contributing writer in Shareably. She's based in Connecticut and can be reached at hi@shareably.net.
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