87-year-old Tennessee man builds 200 rocking horses for at-risk kids

Jack says he remembers the first horse he gave away - it was to a single mother who had just lost her job. (Image: WTVC)

The saying goes, "Your hobbies keep you young!"

It may be why an 87-year-old man from Charleston, Tennessee has spent countless hours building toys for at-risk children.

Jessica Harthorn surprises the man who has donated more than 200 rocking horses to kids.

Jack Smith has a heart of gold and a workshop dedicated to making kids smile.

Recently, he's battled health issues that have kept him from being able to walk down his basement steps to his workshop, and his medical bills have made it hard to afford the supplies he needs to make the rocking horses.

That's when his neighbor took action and planned a big surprise.

The smiles on these kids' faces are contagious, the excitement, the joy, of receiving a hand crafted rocking horse made especially for them.

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For the last decade, Cindy Shelton says her neighbor Jack Smith has made the toys at his home and given them away to any child in need, until recently.

"That's what he lives for, to go to his little workshop downstairs...anyway, he's having trouble getting downstairs," said Cindy.

But today, Cindy found out Jack was feeling better, so she knew he would be in his workshop when she opened the door.

"Hey Jack, On behalf of Newschannel 9 and the McMahan Law Firm, I'd like to present you with 1, 2, 3, 4, $500 for all the kids you've made happy," surprised Cindy.

"I don't deserve it," said Jack.

"Yes, you do!" said Cindy.

"But I did it on purpose," laughed Jack.

After the surprise, Jack was eager to show off his tools. He earned a living as a professional carpenter.

"This machine was purchased in 1947. It's a Stanley Router, " said Jack.

And Jack says don't be fooled by his 30-year-old Craftsman saw, it still cuts with perfection.

Jack says it only takes him one day to create a rocking horse and the finishing touch includes his signature with the date and time it was made.

"So that horse has a birthday. The child can have a birthday party for the horse!" said Jack.

Next, Jack showed us his scrap book, filled with photos and 'thank you' letters from kids through the years.

"It just blesses my heart," said Jack.

He also remembers the first horse he gave away. It was to a single mother who had just lost her job.

"When I gave her the rocking horse she cried, and said I can't believe that a stranger gave me a rocking horse, it was such a gift," said Jack.

But the real gift he says, is that God is still giving him the strength to help others.

Do you know someone who deserves $500 cash for helping others in need? Nominate them here!

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