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Oklahoma man builds toys for community

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Posted at 1:51 PM, Jul 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-12 17:42:26-04

JAY, Okla. (KJRH) -- "I made them for my kids, grandkids, great-grandkids."

Herb Pruitt worked with wood almost all of his life.

"When my boys got 5 and 6 years old I started working with them in the shop," Pruitt said.

Now 78, Pruitt continues doing what he loves - making toys for kids of all ages. From colorful pull-toys for younger kids to all kinds of animals and vehicles, there's something for everyone.

"Of course I've got the Sooner Schooner and the OU truck."

And yes, there are toys for Cowboys, "My son. He's going to OSU, so I have to make an orange and black one for him."

"I think he's got the whole animal kingdom represented over there," said Jamie Pruitt, Herb's son.

Pruitt, a six-year veteran of the Vietnam war, gives his creations to the Marine's Toys For Tots program as well as the Jay Police Department and the Delaware County Sheriff's Office. Officers and deputies give the toys to kids in bad situations.

"It's the parents that are messing up," Pruitt said. "So it gives the kids something to take their mind off what's going on."

Pruitt converted his carport into a toy shop and uses wood salvaged by a friend at a nearby cabinet maker. He blames his second burst of energy, and the reason for hundreds and hundreds of toys, on the pandemic.

"I didn't have anything else to do so I was just bored," he said.

Pruitt enlisted the help of another bored family member - his 73-year-old cousin, a retired school teacher.

"She didn't have anything to do so she started drawing."

Pruitt uses the patterns she draws on the wood, then cuts, sands, and paints. Then another family member steps in.

"My daughter puts the stickers on them for me. It's a family affair," he said.

With new knees and shoulders, and five back surgeries Herb said retirement isn't an option, "I'm a bionic man."

And because he refuses to slow down, his wooden toys and his attitude towards helping others, make Pruitt "Positively Oklahoma."

"He's just been a positive influence on our community in the way he wants to give back to the kids," said Jamie.

"When you get my age what do you do? Sit around and watch TV? Well, I don't sit around and watch TV," Pruitt said as he laughed.

This story originally reported by Mike Brooks on KJRH.com