Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

After fire, ToyMakers of New Port Richey look to rebuild

NEW PORT RICHEY — Approaching what's left of the toy shop, the ground becomes black and uneven. What feels like charred gravel underfoot, Tom Loughlin points out, are actually tiny wheels. Thousands of them.

Those wheels were intended to be fitted to little wooden trucks and planes and pull-along puppies with leashes made of string. Then they would have been donated to children in hospitals, care centers and ambulances around Tampa Bay. For years, in the shop behind Loughlin's house, a group of mostly retirees turned blocks of donated wood into the intricate trinkets.

But Wednesday morning, the shop burned down. Firefighters said it started with an electrical short likely triggered by an animal chewing wires.

The ToyMakers of New Port Richey spent three days a week here, from 8 a.m. to noon, churning out toys. Four times a year, they'd deliver 5,000 of them to St. Joseph's Hospitals, the Shriners, the pediatric unit of Morton Plant Hospital and several others. Since starting in 1982, they have built and donated 320,000 toys.

"You could build a major house from all the wood we planed and cut up," said Loughlin, 75.

Their tools were here. Drills, saws, band saws, planers. One $4,000 planer was just donated to the ToyMakers and hadn't been used yet. By Wednesday afternoon, it was all ash.

Loughlin said the ToyMakers still have enough of a back stock of toys to make two more donations, but production has stopped for now. Since the fire was mentioned on TV news, he said, a few donations have already come in.

He pointed to a brass sign hanging on a support beam in front of the shop. One of its hangers had snapped, but it had otherwise been untouched in the blaze.

"I know that sounds corny," he said, "but I think it's a sign that we're coming back."

After fire, ToyMakers of New Port Richey look to rebuild 04/18/14 [Last modified: Friday, April 18, 2014 9:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review / photos: Sunset Music Festival brings Major Lazer, safety upgrades to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa


    Somewhere beyond the barricades and mountainous LED stages of the Sunset Music Festival, there had to be worry. There had to thousands of parents in parking lots and empty kitchens, anxiously distracting their minds, every now and then checking their phones.

    Major Lazer headlined the Sunset Music Festival on May 27, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
  2. 24-year-old man charged with murder in shooting at Andrea Cove Motel

    LARGO — Pinellas sheriff's officers arrested a 24-year-old transient man Saturday in connection with a homicide at the Andrea Cove Motel in unincorporated Largo.

  3. Photo gallery: Calvary Christian rolls to state title


    View a gallery of images from Calvary Christian's defeat of Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers for the Class 4A title.

    Calvary Christian players circle up on the field before the FHSAA class 4A baseball championship against Pensacola Catholic on Friday May 27, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary scored 6 runs in the first inning, and had 7 hits.
  4. Two girls found safe after being reported missing in New Port Richey

    UPDATE: Both girls were found safe Saturday night, police said.

  5. IT failure blamed for British Airways cancellations (w/video)


    LONDON — British Airways canceled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U.K. holiday weekend.

    Passengers wait at a British Airways check-in desk after the airport suffered an IT systems failure Saturday at London''s Gatwick Airport. [Associated Press]