Santa Claus on a Harley
By Drew Bethell/Trojan Torch
Fred Boyd has made it his mission over the past 24 years to bring a glimmer of happiness to children facing the worst.
Boyd, or as some may know him “The Toy Maker”, began devoting his spare time to making toys nearly 24 years ago. The retired veteran spends hours in his shop each day crafting new wooden toys for children in a time of need.
After reading an article in 1995, Boyd picked up a passion through a fellow veteran.
“I first saw Eric in Wood Magazine,” Boyd said. “His number was there so I called him and he called me back. He started me out. He was called the Toy Man, so I took over as the Toy Maker. I had no experience, so I started from scratch. I just saw that article and I was hooked.”
Upon the call, Boyd journeyed nearly 1,450 miles by motorcycle to the Toy Man’s home in Connecticut where the Ellis Island Medal of Honor winner showed him the ropes. To carry on the legacy, Boyd soon picked up production in 1996, making the wooden cars and planes himself.
Fast forward 23 years later and Boyd is still passing out toys throughout the Tulsa area. One of his biggest distribution methods is through the Jenks Police Department.
“I met Chief Arthur at Starbucks. I knew he was a cop, but I didn’t know he was chief so I’d always say, “Hey you be safe out there.” The third time I said that he told me I was one of the very few to say it to him. So, we struck up a conversation and I made about 25 toys for their police cars.”
The toys given to the station are meant to let children take their mind off traumatic events or to keep them busy while the police talk to their parents. Boyd runs a similar operation with St. Francis Children’s Hospital.
Thanks to Boyd, the sound of wooden wheels across the tile floors echoes down the halls, but the doctors and nurses don’t mind.
“The doctors said that if you can take their mind off of their pain, that trauma of chemo and treatment, it really makes a difference. It’s a gift,” Boyd said. “Not everybody can be a doctor or deal with injuries. It brings me joy to know that I’m giving them joy. Even if it’s terminal, it brings their parents and me peace to see them still have a gleam in their eyes.”
Over the years Boyd has delivered toys to many children in need of a smile. Some, however, stick with him.
Not long ago Boyd met a girl named Telina who had terminal cancer. Telina quickly took to Boyd and the two formed a bond that stands even after her passing.
“I met her parents and they just took me in like family,” Boyd said. “I would relieve them in the middle of the night between midnight and 3 a.m.. I’d sit with her and the tubes and so they allowed me to be there with them when she died. So, I saw her last breath as we all got to say goodbye.
“I’ve got what I call my ‘Hall of Fame’ where I have all of their pictures but hers is a little bigger because I’m still in touch with her family.”
While Boyd plans to do this for the next twenty years, he is still on the lookout for someone to pass it on. For now, Boyd doesn’t mind being the local Santa Claus on a Harley.
“Now I always carry toys on my bike. Wherever I am I always have toys to give away. My heart got in it because of Eric. I get more out of it than they do I believe. It’s a ministry for me. I believe that this is what I’m supposed to be doing so I’m going to keep on doing it just like Eric. He told me to pass it on, carry it on. I just got to find somebody in the next twenty years to pick up the gauntlet and go from there.”