Happy Factory “elves” stay busy year round making toys for children in need

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Our wonderful volunteer “elves” spend countless hours at the Happy Factory building wooden toys to deliver to children in need not only at Christmas time but all through the year!

We love to hear stories of how our wooden toys make children smile. Recently we received a thank you letter from the Keyte family in Utah that we would like to share.

“Almost 3 years ago my son (age 2 1/2) fell and broke his femur bone! He was transported to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, UT. He had to spend the night and have surgery the next morning to set his leg. Before his surgery he was really scared and in a lot of pain. A lovely nurse came by with a toy truck and car for him. Stamped on the toys were, “The Happy Factory”. He loved those 2 little toys, He didn’t let go of them for a long time. In fact, he slept with them similar to a teddy bear. He still has those toys and loves them just as much today as he did then. Thank you so much for your work and dedication in making children all over the world HAPPY!”

Wishing  you all a Happy Holiday Season. Thank you for your continued support, every dollar you donate makes this work possible. 



“Happy” the geocache travel bug is making his way around the world!

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We recently received an email from Vernile Prince sharing his story of a Happy Factory Toy that is traveling the world and spreading joy.

“Several years ago I became quite involved in a GPS treasure hunt game called Geocaching. This is a game where people register on a website (geocaching.com), then hunt for geocaches hidden by other players using gps coordinates that are posted on the website. When a player finds a cache you log your username on the cache’s log and on the website. It has become a great game, even an obsession for some, to see how many caches you can find. Over the years it has become an international game with players and caches world-wide.

In addition to just finding caches another feature of the game is to move “trackables” from one cache to another. The idea here is to attach an identifying tag to a trinket and leave it in a cache. Someone else will later pick it up and move it to another cache, and thus it moves around, sometimes extensively. These trinkets are known as “travel bugs”.

In 2012 I found one of the Happy Factory’s toy cars in my father’s home and decided it would make a good “Travel Bug”. I acquired the necessary identifier and left it in a cache a few miles north of New Harmony. I called my travel bug “Happy”, and stated on the log page that it’s mission is “to travel around spreading happiness, and that happiness comes by serving others.” Also on the log page I explained the origin of the little car and The Happy Factory.

The interesting part of this story is that 12+ years later, Happy is still traveling. While I was active in the sport I placed around eight travel bugs, and over a few years they all disappeared, either being lost or stolen. Not Happy! He is still traveling. After being placed in May of 2012, Happy made his way to several caches in Southern Utah. By 2014 he was moved to California and then to New Zealand. He traveled around the north island of New Zealand and then returned to Los Angeles in March of 2015. After a few stops in the LA area he was taken to London, and from there all over Europe including Germany, Spain, Poland, Czech Republic, Poland, Latvia, Holland, and spent most of 2021 and 2022 moving around France. On May 16, 2023 he was placed in a cache in Ulster, Ireland. In his 12 year journey Happy has traveled 39,861 miles and has visited 1555 caches. I would bet he is the best traveled toy that the Happy Factory has ever produced. As long as he is still traveling there is hope that he may someday return to the United States, and perhaps even to Southern Utah.

You can view Happy’s log page at the following web address: https://www.geocaching.com/track/details.aspx?id=794200

Happy Factory Toy still being enjoyed 20 years later

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We were excited to hear that our Happy Factory Toys are making children smile….even twenty years later!  We received this sweet email from Amanda Muffett.  Her cute little daughter is named Winnie (#warriorwinnie).  Winnie was diagnosed with cancer at 9 months old.  She’s in post intervention observation now. She’s still got the cancer, but after chemo and surgery she’s thriving.
“I’m one of the many missionaries who have done service at the happy factory.  I was there in 2001.  I was so blessed to be able to keep one of the cars I painted, and my little daughter plays with it now.  The little guys I babysit love it too!
I just wanted to thank you for the amazing work you continue to do!  I wish I lived close enough to keep coming to volunteer.  You guys are awesome.  I just wanted to reach out because every time I see it, I’m flooded with so many wonderful memories and feelings about that time in my life.  Praying so many blessings for you and all who serve there!”

Happy Factory Toys delivered to Wiesbaden Germany for US Military Children

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On December 23, 2022, Bruce Barker, a Happy Factory volunteer, was able to deliver a box of Happy Factory Toys to children of US military soldiers serving at the US Army base in Wiesbaden Germany.  This was a wonderful Christmas surprise for the children who gratefully received them. These children were attending a child development center where pre-kindergarten children are provided day care service. Bruce was there visiting with his daughter and her family. Barker’s daughter and her husband teach military dependent children at the Wiesbaden U.S. Army base.

Many children throughout the world are positively impacted by our wooden toys. We appreciate the many volunteers who help make this possible. Though many costs are covered by generous donations of time and supplies, it still costs about $1 to make each Happy Factory Toy. If you are interested in donating to this cause please click the “donate now” button on our home page.

“We may not be able to make a toy for every child in the world that needs one-but we’re going to try!”   Charles Cooley, Founder

A Year in Review, 2022 at The Happy Factory

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2022 has been a wonderful year at The Happy Factory.

Donna Cooley was honored as the Grand Marshal at the 2022 Iron County Fair this past September. In 1995 she and her husband, Charles Cooley, started making toys for The Happy Factory.  To date over 1,700,000 toys have been hand crafted and shipped throughout the United States and the world! Regarding her work Donna said,  “I love spending several hours every day at The Happy Factory, this is my greatest  fulfilled dream.”

The Happy Factory Open house, held in October was a wonderful success. Our volunteers created some beautiful items that were available for donation. We had a great turnout and appreciate the generous donations we received this year.

We know that without our amazing volunteers and generous donations this work would not happen. Thanks to everybody who supports us here at The Happy Factory.

Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year

Happy Factory Volunteer Delivers Toys to Southeast Utah

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One of our Amazing volunteers, Jim Rasmussen, traveled with his daughter to San Juan Public Health department to deliver these beautiful Steam Shovels and hundreds of wooden toys from the Happy Factory. They were distributed throughout Southeast Utah to deserving children.  The final destinations were, Blanding Elementary, Bluff Elementary, Montezuma Creek Elementary, Monument Valley Elementary, Navajo Mountain Clinic and Aneth Community School.

The children were so appreciative,  we have already received many thank you notes!

We want to say thanks to the many volunteers who donate their time to make these toys and a special thanks to many generous people for their cash donations. We are a Non-profit organization and could not accomplish all we do without your help.

“We may not be able to make a toy for every child in the world that needs one-but we’re going to try!”-Charles Cooley

Happy Factory offering special tours October 4th – 7th

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The Happy Factory has postponed its annual open house and gala this year. Instead, we are offering special tours October 4th-7th from 9a.m. to 4p.m. Normally, the Happy Factory has a fall celebration and fund-raiser, but has postponed the 2021 version because of the disruption the recent floods have had on so many people’s lives in our community.

Happy Factory volunteers will offer free tours highlighting the various steps to making the toys, from tracing and cutting out the wood, to sanding, oiling, and “wheeling”.  At the end of the tour visitors can receive a free toy car, and learn about volunteering or donating to the Happy Factory.

“The purpose of the tours is really threefold” said Donna Cooley, who founded the Happy Factory with her husband, Charles, in 1995. “We mainly want everybody in the community to visit and see firsthand what we do here. Then, if they would like, they can learn more about volunteering or donating to the Factory. We always need more volunteers, and we always need more financial resources.”

Many of the supplies to build the toys are donated however, it still takes about one dollar to make every toy; this pays for equipment, maintenance, and items such as saw blades, sandpaper, and wheels and axles for the toy cars. Donations are not required for the tours, but any amount would be appreciated.

“The spirit of the Happy Factory is infectious,” said Donna Cooley,  “Come, visit us and see why!”


Iron County Fair Honors Donna Cooley and The Happy Factory by naming her Grand Marshall

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Donna Beth Wilde Cooley was born on August 23,1935, near the end of the Great Depression. She was born in Oakley, Summit County, Utah, to a happy, loving family, the youngest of four children. “We knew what poverty was but made the best of everything possible living in a small farming community,” she says of her early days.

She enjoyed a fun childhood in Oakley, with lots of cousins around, playing “Run Sheepy Run” and all the old street games at night.

When she was fifteen years old, she moved with her family to Salt Lake City where her father worked making cheese in a dairy. She graduated from Granite High School in 1953 and then worked for eighteen months at General Motors Acceptance Corporation in Salt Lake City from 1953 to 1955. She worked in accounting offices for thirty-four years, twenty-five of those years at Southern Utah University as head cashier.

Donna married Charles T. Cooley on November 25, 1955. Together they had two daughters, Jolene Cooley Lee and Kristine Cooley. They were married for fifty-five years, until Charles’s death in 2011.

Donna retired from Southern Utah University on July 1,1995. Soon after, she and Charles started making small toys in their garage. That fun hobby grew eventually into the Happy Factory, a non-profit, strictly volunteer organization that has now shipped over 1,600,000 toys to needy children worldwide. “I love spending several hours every day at the Happy Factory,” she says. “This is one of my greatest fulfilled dreams.”

We are so happy to be able to Celebrate Donna Cooley and The Happy Factory! Her dream, determination and hard work has helped to change the lives of children in Utah and around the world.  As Charles Cooley said, ” We may not be able to make a toy for every child in the world that needs one-but we’re going to try!”


Thanks to Boulevard Home Furniture Store for their Generous Donation to The Happy Factory

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BlvdHome organized a fundraiser from June 7–26, where customers at the company’s St. George, Cedar City and Mesquite locations could earn a discount if they pledged money to local charities. We are so grateful that The Happy Factory was among those chosen to be a part of this wonderful event.

Steve Manwaring, creative director for BlvdHome, helped to organize the fundraiser and said one of the best parts of the event was that customers chose which of the charities their donation would support. “One of our core values at BlvdHome is charitable contribution,” he said.

Our appreciation goes out to those at BlvdHome and everybody who was willing to donate to The Happy Factory. It is because of donations like these that we are able to continue to do the work that we do! “We may not be able to make a toy for every child in the world that needs one-but we’re going to try!”

Thank You for the Awesome Cars!

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A preschool in Troy Idaho recently received some of our small wooden cars and trucks. A thank you note arrived not long after saying, “Thank you for the Awesome cars! The preschool kids loved playing with them. Here are their car drawings to say Thank You. Love, Troy Preschool AM and PM classes”.

The photos were so cute we wanted to share them.

As always, we appreciate the many people who volunteer their time and talents or donate money to The Happy Factory. We love making children smile. To learn more on ways to donate click on the “how you can help” tab in our menu.