Yes, Pagosa, there is a Santa Claus

By Siri Schuchardt
Special to The PREVIEW

A box full of “stuff” was donated to the Humane Society Thrift Store.

There were some little wooden cars down in the bottom of that box — cute little handmade cars. On the bottom of the cars was a logo proclaiming, “The Happy Factory.”

What on earth is The Happy Factory?

A bit of research revealed that The Happy Factory is a non-profit organization that was started by two very altruistic people, Charles and Donna Cooley, in Cedar City, Utah.

This time of year, The Happy Factory becomes Santa Claus to hundreds of children. Volunteers produce little wooden cars made by loving hands from mostly donated materials to be given to children who need a toy.

Their motto is, “We may not be able to make a toy for every child in the world that needs one – but we’re going to try!”

The cars at the Humane Society were immediately set aside, and a call was made to see if more cars could be made available for children in need in our community.

After hearing how the Humane Society happened to come across the little cars, and grateful that the decision was made not to sell them but to give them away to children in need, Donna Cooley graciously offered to send 100 cars for distribution to children in Pagosa Springs. Charles Cooley died a year ago, but Donna has kept the home fires burning and will produce cars as long as there is a need for any child, anywhere in the world, at any time of the year.

The Cooleys founded their organization on the premise that, “miracles happen when people willingly serve others,” and that is what the Humane Society plans to do. It has sometimes been said that the Humane Society serves the needs of animals and not people, but the organization does benefit people in the community in so many ways. Without the Thrift Store and its counterparts in town there would be those who could not afford to shop anywhere else. There are people of all ages who benefit from the companionship and unconditional love from an adopted shelter pet. Families who have lost pets benefit from the Humane Society’s efforts to reunite them, and everyone in Archuleta County benefits from not having stray cats and dogs wandering the streets and surrounding area.

The Humane Society would like to make a difference in the lives of children this holiday season. They will be giving away these beautiful handmade cars,  along with an age-appropriate book from the Humane Society, to children in need here in Pagosa Springs.

The Humane Society will distribute the cars and books to Archuleta County Education Center, Archuleta County Victims Assistance Program, Seeds of Learning, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Arrangements have been made through the Humane Society for Head Start to receive cars directly from The Happy Factory in order to qualify for an “in-kind” donation. The Humane Society will also reserve a small number of cars and books in case an additional group or individual need arises in the community.

Santa Claus truly does, “make glad the heart of childhood” and the Humane Society is proud to partner with The Happy Factory in bringing these beautiful cars to children in Pagosa Springs.

For more information on the Humane Society, call 264-5549 or visit

For more information on The Happy Factory, go to their website,

This story was posted on December 13, 2012.