WEST JORDAN — For the past 16 years, Alton Thacker, 82, and a group retirees have produced roughly 85,000 wooden cars a year to give to kids across the world — all from a toy factory in West Jordan.
Thacker’s act of service was recently recognized on the Facebook show, “Returning the Favor,” where host Mike Rowe honors people throughout the country who have gone well and beyond to serve their communities. Thacker’s episode, which was filmed in West Jordan last year, aired March 6.
“I’d like to make a million toys,” Thacker said in the episode.
“Today?” Rowe asked.
“Before I die,” Thacker answered.
Thacker is hopeful he’ll be able to finish his goal by this year according to a comment made in the video.
Founded in 1996, Tiny Tim's Toys Foundation is dedicated to giving toy cars to children without cost. The foundation has employed the help of lumberyards, hardware stores and even the auto paint specialists at the Central Utah Correctional Facility, according to an article written by Lee Benson for the Deseret News.
“Tiny Tim was a real person. We met him while we were in Mexico. He was severely handicapped, and he taught us that if you want to be happy, you do something for somebody else,” Thacker told Rowe.
The factory, which opened in 2002, engages volunteers who average 72 years of age and who sacrifice their time creating toys for children out of wood that would otherwise be thrown away. Not only have the toys given the children joy, but also the toymakers. Thacker has described his work of managing the factory as a blessing to his life.
In the episode, Thacker, an ATV enthusiast, is rewarded for his efforts by Rowe and his production team by receiving a set of wheels himself.
This is the second time Thacker has been thanked for his deeds. In 2017, when Thacker was running into difficulties paying the rent, a KSL TV reporter gave him another chance to keep going. According to an article written by Ray Boone for KSL, Thacker was "overwhelmed" by the number of people who wanted to help — even committing to recurring donations.
“If you want to be happy, you do something for someone else,” Thacker said in the video.