Smilemakers Turns Turn Cars into Smiles for Kids

Residents of the Sterling Inn in Victorville are involved in a program called Smilemakers, a charitable organization that makes and distributes wooden toy cars and trucks to children worldwide. Sterling Inn resident, 89-year-old John Powell came up with the idea, and with the help of retired teacher Doug Card, a childhood friend of Powell’s son. Card makes the car blanks from scrap wood. Also helping out are Mark and Sue Hitzel, and their two grandsons. Since March when they started to program, residents of Sterling Inn have made almost 2500 of the cute cars in nine different designs. The work is therapeutic for the residents, and they enjoy volunteering their time, adding axles and wheels to the blanks, and coating them with a nice finish. Once complete, they are provided free to children in need around the world. The toys are fun and easy to make, and many of the children who receive them never had a toy or learned to play. There are many active SmileMakers workshops and chapters across the country where groups gather to produce thousands of cars per month. The only requirement is a love of children and the wish to bring a little happiness into their life. The cars are distributed with the help of organizations such as church missions, disaster relief organizations, programs devoted to the welfare of children, medical groups and individuals traveling to areas where a modest gift will show that someone cares. For more about this program, visit

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