Carved with love

by Cricket Holland
Lower Colley is pictured above with several of the cars he created for the Marlow Samaritans Christmas Food Boxes this year. Colley made an assortment of 300 wooden cars, trucks, tractors and scooters. Lower Colley is pictured above with several of the cars he created for the Marlow Samaritans Christmas Food Boxes this year. Colley made an assortment of 300 wooden cars, trucks, tractors and scooters.

Acts of kindness usually go unnoticed and it’s primarily because the one doing good deeds doesn’t want their kindnesses to be known. Such is the case in the article you are about to read.

Marlow resident Lower Colley, a former TWA aircraft mechanic, and his wife, Marie, are an amazing example of wanting to love others through the tiniest of gifts and without fanfare or pats on their backs.

This year the Marlow Samaritans were fortunate to be on the receiving end of Colley’s personal ministry: the carving of small cars, tractors, scooters, pickups, an endless list of toys for children to enjoy and hopefully keep through the years for their own children one day.

“Mr. Colley is known for his handcrafted wooden toys and asked if we would like to have some for the children of families who would be receiving the Christmas food boxes,” said Carolyn Lowe of the Marlow Samaritans. “I said yes, definitely yes! And within a couple of weeks, he delivered 300 beautiful toys to us.”

A love of wood working was expanded years ago when Colley was involved with the making of P.E.T. carts. When asked what a P.E.T. cart was, the story flowed easily and I share a portion of it with you now; not to just give praise to Colley for his work but also to those who recognized a need in another part of the world that exploded into a mission work that would change lives forever.

P.E.T. is a personal energy transportation cart (wheelchair) that was developed by Mel West in 1996. After a coordinated effort, alongside a friend in the Congo of Africa, West designed a prototype of a hand crank cart enabling people who have been injured by landmines, the effects of polio, or other calamities to actually become mobile in their homes and community.

Colley, who was instrumental in producing the wooden portion of the carts for several years, enjoyed making a difference in the lives of those who were literally “crawling” on the ground to get from place to place.

“It was such a wonderful ministry, knowing that we were making a difference in their lives,” said Colley.

Because of Covid, Colley had to cease helping make the carts and needed a good project to pour himself into while also helping others.

“Covid shut me down this year in trying to help make the wheelchairs, so I just put more time into making the toys,” Colley said.

He had been making the small wooden cars for a few years and had lots of scrap wood from making his part of the carts. Perfect conditions to begin a ministry he loves.

“Every child needs joy in their lives and Christmas gave us an opportunity to put smiles on their faces while letting them know they are loved by giving them a simple toy,” Colley said. “That’s why I make them; keeps me busy and makes a child happy.”

Now, I am not a child but I so wanted the little red pickup that he made. The wheels were perfect, it rolled like a dream and would entertain our great-granddaughters when they come for a visit!

Originally, each toy was made from scratch until one of his sons (they have six) realized how much time went into making of the wheels.

“My son now orders all the wheels pre-made for me. I still paint all of them but it sure helped free up my time to make more car bodies instead of working on wheels!” he said.

Colley, a very humble man, did not seek attention for his toys. I sought him out and asked him to let me write about this wonderful ministry he started. Not one to receive praise, he immediately recognized the help he receives from others.

“My church family fully supports this toy project and helps fund it too,” he said. “We have a mission team that decides where to donate the toys and helps deliver them to children.

“The toys are given away to children all over the world. It’s wonderful knowing children in other countries are enjoying the cars as well as children here in the United States,” Colley said. “Knowing we are making a difference in the lives of children here in Marlow makes us happy too.”

According to his wife Marie, she is especially thankful that special needs children receive the toys. “When I was three years old, my dad died of Tuberculosis and my mother went to work at a Crippled Children’s hospital in Oklahoma City. Remembering the stories my grandmother told me about my mom’s dedication to the children, really touches my heart today, knowing that children in hospitals are receiving these toys,” she said.

When asked how many of the hand carved toys he has made, there was not an immediate number that popped into his mind – “Oh, there’s no telling how many. I’ve been doing this for years and plan on keeping it up as long as the good Lord will let me,” Colley said.

Although I didn’t ask his age, I feel quite certain he will make thousands more before he retires.