A Real-Life Santa Claus

The student body was blessed with a visit from Hal Liberty this week. Hal is an octogenarian who has devoted his life to bringing joy to children. For over 30 years, Hal has been crafting handmade wooden toys. What began as a simple hobby that focused on his own children has become a wonderful ministry to disadvantaged and special needs people of all ages.

From his 1,000 square foot wood shop in Bradford, Hal builds up to 1,500 wooden toys that are sent to area churches, soup kitchens, crisis centers, and prison ministries. Although the raw material is donated, there are still the utility costs, as well as, maintenance costs for his equipment. Hal does not solicit donations nor sell any product, rather, he covers all costs himself. He does get volunteer help though. A large portion of his toys are assembled by disabled and special needs adults. Because Hal has engineered the toy making process into individual work stations of repeated tasks, once a person identifies his skill set, he can be assigned to a work station. In this manner, high quality, virtually indestructable toys can be built in large batch quantities.

At the school assembly, Hal told the students how he came to be a real-life Santa Claus as he passed around samples of the finished product. He also took the opportunity to unveil his latest proto-type, a helicopter, which elicited a chorus of ooh’s and aah’s.

 After school, several junior high and high school students volunteered to help assemble and stain over 150 wooden crosses that would be donated to local churches for their Easter liturgies. This is another branch of Hal's ministry that also explains the the source of his motivation. After getting to know Hal Liberty, one can only conclude that he has taken Our Lord's words to heart, "whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me." (Mt 25:40)