By Molly Moser
On Monday, Dec. 2, Jim Eglseder arrived at the office of The Press with an armful of Tonka Trucks. Like many, he offered the toys as a donation to Shepherd of the Hills Clothing Center and Crisis Fund, which is collecting Christmas gifts for children. But Eglseder’s donations are one-of-a-kind. They’re toys he’s brought back to life with his own two hands.
About three years ago, Eglseder began fixing broken or rusted Tonka Trucks. He and his wife, Kathy, just happened to stop at a garage sale in Communia, where he picked up two toy trucks, thinking he’d try to fix them. “From then on, whenever I got to a garage sale or flea market I’d look for them,” he says.
For that first dump truck, Egl-seder made a wooden piece to replace a missing part. Since then, he has replaced dozens of sets of wheels and windshields, mixing and matching from his tub of spare parts. He frequents toy shows, where he can pick up Tonka toys either for refurbishment or for parts.