SUN CITY CENTER – The SCC Sawdust Engineers isn’t just a club for hobbyists.
Its active members are busy every weekday working on projects “to try and make things a little better for our community,” said Ed Klein, president of the club for the past two years. “We have approximately 300 members; 200 are active and 57 of those are women,” Klein said.
For more than 30 years the Sawdust Engineers have donated toys, furniture and safety equipment to the Sun City Center community and nonprofit organizations throughout the South Shore area.
“We have a great crew here,” Klein said. “They are always willing to help out.”
Members have donated handmade toys to Good Samaritan Mission in Wimauma, benches to the Tampa Children’s Home, wheelchair ramps for local residents and countless other projects over the past three decades.
“It is phenomenal that they care to the degree they do,” said Bob Krause, director of development at Tampa Children’s Home, a 123-year old home for underprivileged children that relies on the generosity of clubs like this. “A lot of people have forgotten about us because we aren’t the shiny penny.”
Most recently the club donated a handmade violin for the home’s fundraising auction.
“The tears in their eyes each time they come here shows the size of their hearts,” Krause said.
Annette Smith, paint room supervisor, and other volunteers welcome teachers from any nonprofit organization to learn basic woodworking skills. They are shown how to make educational items to take back to their classrooms. Most of those items help children with their cognitive skills and are used for identifying things like shapes, letters and numbers.
There is no charge for the training. It’s simply another way the club gives back, Smith said.
The Sawdust Engineers club is supported solely on donations, the bulk of which is generated out of its sales room. Items from household knickknacks to furniture are made by members and available for purchase at 1009 Pebble Beach Blvd. N. All proceeds go toward the purchase and maintenance of equipment and supplies.
Club membership dues are $40 the first year and $30 every year after. This includes mandatory safety training and familiarization on the equipment.
“Safety is our first priority,” Klein said. “There are no exceptions. All new members must go through our training. I was a builder for 30 years and went through the same (type of) training as members just looking for a hobby.”
Members are welcome to use more than 20 machines in the club’s workshop – including table and band saws, lathes and drill presses – to work on their own projects. Sun City Center residents occasionally bring in wood items needing repair, and the work is done based on volunteer availability, usually within a few weeks. The cost of the repair or restoration is based on materials needed and the value the owner places on their items.
For additional information on the Sun City Center Sawdust Engineers, call (813) 642-2038.
Dosi Loverro is freelance writer who can be reached at [email protected]