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70-year-old volunteer becomes 'toy doctor' at north Taiwan child center

Ho Kuan-ming says grandchild ‘trained’ him to put technical skills to use

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Ho Kuan-ming, who studied mechanics and owned a hardware store, now puts his skills to a new use. (Hsinchu City Government photo)

Ho Kuan-ming, who studied mechanics and owned a hardware store, now puts his skills to a new use. (Hsinchu City Government photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — After helping his wife fix children’s toys at the Hsinchu City North Child Center, a 70-year-old man officially became the center’s volunteer “toy doctor,” teaching children about the importance of taking care of things.

In a press release, the Hsinchu City Government said Ho Kuan-ming (何寬明), who studied mechanics in high school, worked as an apprentice at a hardware store for 12 years in his youth before opening his own shop. His skills and familiarity with all kinds of tools and parts made fixing his grandchildren’s toys easy.

Ho was cited as saying that he had also developed the habit of collecting extra parts from his grandchildren’s toys, such as screws and springs. Once, to his grandchildren’s delight, he used some of these extra parts to fix a discarded toy food cart they had picked up. He said he was glad to have the skills to bring joy to children.

Ho’s wife, Liu Pi-chen (劉碧珍), was first to volunteer at the child center, and she once asked him to help fix a broken toy at the facility. He started volunteering as a toy doctor after his family’s encouragement.

Ho once fixed a storytelling teddy bear for a disabled child. To restore the bear’s storytelling function, Ho recalled that he spent days studying the complicated circuitry.

Later, he was moved to hear that the child had suddenly made huge progress speaking and would mimic the teddy bear. This reminded Ho once again how meaningful his work is.

Ho shared with the city government the three keys to toy repair. He said the most common reason toys break is broken screws, which are easily replaceable. Toys that run on electricity, on the other hand, often suffer from loose connections; parents can fix these if they understand simple soldering. When toys that run on battery malfunction, cleaning the battery case’s connective spring may be a quick solution.

70-year-old volunteer becomes 'toy doctor' at north Taiwan child center
Ho Kuan-ming is now Hsinchu City North Child Center's "toy doctor." (Hsinchu City Government photo)