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Local Business Makes Toys Of Yore

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

CRAWLEY Dave Crawley
Dave Crawley joined KDKA in April of 1988 where he reports on the...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – In the Mon Valley borough of Charleroi, where most of the steel mills have all closed, a plain brick building still heeds the call “made in America.”

Sons and daughters of Mon Valley steel workers now make their living with wood.

They hand craft toys, puzzles and games from a simpler time – not made of plastic and no batteries or plugs required.

And the centerpiece design dates back thousands of years.

“Today we’re creating boomerangs,” Dean Helfer with Channel Craft said. “And tomorrow we’ll be creating boomerangs and this time next year, we’ll be creating boomerangs.”

But Helfer’s Channel Crafts doesn’t stop with boomerangs.

They make train whistles and about 100 other toys.

“When I took a job here in college and found out things were made here in America, it made me really proud to go into stores and see very few things made in America and we do it right here,” one employee said.

They’re toys with the charms and texture of history.

But will 19th century play things really hold the attention of 21st century children?

Channel Crafts’ toys are time-honored, but a novelty to today’s children who play video games.

“They’re really cool, give a kid something else to do other than just sit around and play video games,” one boy said.

But for Helfer, it begins and ends with the boomerang.

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