HAMBURG, NY- When you think of the fair, you probably think of rides, games, food and agriculture. You might not know about some amazing acts of kindness and philanthropy happening there each and every day. The Western New York Woodturners are this week's "Good Neighbors."
For more than a decade, the Western New York Woodturners have been staple artisans at the Erie County Fair.
"I can put a blank piece of wood up there, and in a half hour I can show you something real nice," said WNY Woodturners Club 1 President Richard Mialki.
Using only a lathe, simple tools, and a steady hand, the Woodturners create little works of art. Beautiful bowls, children's toys, pens, and much more.
"Anything you do with your hands is a thrill," he said.
What's even more thrilling though is seeing what happens with the all the money from their sales. They donate it all to the local Make-A-Wish Foundation to help make dreams come true for children with life-threatening medical conditions.
"We don't take anything out. Every penny we take in goes to Make-A-Wish," said Mialki.
Their donations helped 5-year-old Carley who suffers from Chiari Malformation. Her wish to go to Disney World was granted.
13-year-old Jason who battles Muscular Dystrophy got to go to Italy.
6-year-old Jonathan suffers from life-threatening seizures and his wish to be a firefighter came true.
And 9-year-old Annabelle who's battling leukemia got her dream playhouse thanks to the Woodturners. The list goes on and on.
"They are such heartfelt men and women. We are so so grateful to have them as part of our team helping us grant wishes in Western New York," said Kate Glaser of Make-A-Wish. "It really is incredible to see how their simple actions help turn wishes into magical reality. These kids are going through life's greatest battle and the wishes give them hope, strength and joy."
The Woodturners are all volunteers who reach into their own pockets for the wood, tools and supplies. Last year alone they donated more than $20,000. But they say they get back more than they give.
"We all enjoy helping children," said Mialki. "It's what you're living for- to see someone happy or achieve something that they wanted."
They found a way to turn wood into wishes.
Both the Woodturners and Make-A-Wish need donations and volunteers to keep doing the great work that they do.
Find out more about the WNY Woodturners here.
If you'd like to volunteer, donate, or nominate a child for Make-A-Wish, call (716) 810-WISH or log onto wny.wish.org.