Rowan said, 'It's almost as big as me. I thought it was going to break the whole time.'
When 8-year-old Rowan Francois bought a dinosaur toy on a vacation in Florida, he was clueless about how he would safely transport it home. Thanks to Bryant Cisneraos, a baggage handler at California Burbank airport, the youngster's prized possession got VIP treatment throughout the journey to Spokane, Washington.
"It's almost as big as me," Rowan told CBS News. "I thought it was going to break the whole time." Glo Jones, who has also been working at the airport as a bag checker for two decades, said she hadn't seen any toy as big as Rowan's dinosaur.
However, the biggest concern for Cisneraos, who works for South Western Airlines, was that the toy was not in a box. He said, "We gave it a specific cart by itself, took it to the gate, and when we loaded the dinosaur in the bin, we put it in the center bin, which is by himself.” It was only because of Cisneraos and his co-workers that Rowan was able to have his toy delivered safely and securely back home.
Talking about toys and kids, there is another man who really cares about them. Alton Thacker, now 87, started Tiny Tim's Toy Foundation 26 years ago. They gift children in need around the world wooden cars with painted smiles. Thacker told The Washington Post, "For every car, we finish and give away, there's always another child who needs one. For some kids around the world, one of our little wooden cars is the first and only toy they'll ever get."
@NorahODonnell Good morning Ms. O'Donnell. I enjoyed watching this story on a replay of the evening news this morning via @CBS6 . I hope Rowan Francois has a Happy #FossilFriday with his giant toy dinosaur this Friday thanks to some special airline workers.— M W Lewis (@MWLewis5) October 19, 2022
The foundation makes about 80,000 to 120,000 wooden toy cars in a year with the help of volunteers who are mainly retirees, on average about 80 years old, and want to be part of a good cause. These cars are sent to various countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Ghana, Thailand, Russia, Mexico, and Brazil. "Kids will drop to the floor and start 'driving' them on the concrete, the tile, the dirt," Bender said. "The response of pure joy is always the same."
The factory makes the toys using wood donated by local lumber yards and cabinetmakers. The rent for the factory space and the money to buy paint and brushes comes from donations. They have about 35 volunteers and also get help from churches and civic and Boy Scout groups.
The idea to start this initiative came to Thacker and his wife Cheryl in 1996 when they decided to convert donated planks into toy cars. And the inspiration behind the venture's name? It came from a boy called Tiny Tim, a malnourished and disabled boy they met on a trip to Mexico in the 1990s. Fast forward to 2022, Thacker and his wife Cheryl decided to retire and pass on the company to their daughter Ashley Krause and granddaughter Emilee Johnson. Cheryl said, "I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when I saw that little girl with that car. And I saw how much joy it brought to her. We had no idea what we were going to grow to be. We just saw a need for little kids to have toys. Ashley and Emilee are just, they're going to take it beyond what we ever dreamed."