Woodcraft Volunteer Pen Turners Set Record in 2022 Turn for Troops Event

Woodcraft volunteers turned a record number of pens in the 2022 Turn for Troops Turn-a-Thon: 16,455, the third highest total in 19 years. The only totals that exceed the 2022 number are: 2009, 17,228, and 2018, 17,097. The 2021 total is 14,703. Pens will be given to active duty military personnel and those recovering from injuries.

“Hats off to Woodcraft’s loyal volunteers and store personnel for providing so many more one-of-a-kind thank-you pens for military personnel,” President and CEO Jack Bigger said. “They make it possible for Woodcraft to continue to provide military personnel with unique pens as a token of gratitude for their sacrifices.”

Woodcraft’s national Turn for Troops program dates back to the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and has produced 236,425 pens over 19 years. Woodcraft of Tucson, Arizona, contributed 28,500 pens overall, the top total among stores.

Why turn pens for the military?

This is such a great opportunity for woodworkers to use their skills to honor active service members and have some fun while doing so,” Bigger said. Most Woodcraft stores offer classes in pen turning, and a video, Pen Turning 101, is available on woodcraft.com.

Notes like this one from a recipient deployed on the USS George H.W. Bush confirm this program’s value: “Thank you for your support…your support speaks volumes as a visible indication that our sacrifice is appreciated. For that we are grateful.”

Top 5 Stores in 2022:

#1-514 Tucson, Arizona – 2,297 – claims the #1 spot for the third year in a row, as well as the 8th time holding the spot in 19 years (5-year streak from 2011-2015).

#2-550 Grand Rapids, Michigan – 1,878 – has been a Top 5 store since 2014, staying in #2 for another year (and #1 in 2018 and 2019).

#3-506 Milwaukee, Wisconsin – 1,748 – made its third appearance in the Top 5, previously at #2 in 2020.

#4-552 Nashville, Tennessee – 1,301– is back in the Top 5 after a four-year break. Prior to that, the store was in the Top 5 from 2007-2018, claiming #1 three times.

#5-326 Boise, Idaho – 1,262 – has been in the Top 5 every single year

Another 1,000+ Store

452 Chattanooga, Tennessee – 1,213

Other 500+ Stores

561 San Carlos, California – 887

517 Cleveland, Ohio – 614

543 Knoxville, Tennessee – 601

19-Year Totals – Top 5 Stores

The Top 5 overall stores remain unchanged since 2015. Four stores are well over 20,000 for their overall totals, and one store is approaching 13,000.

#1-514 Tucson, Arizona – 28,500 tops 28,000 and has been the #1 store overall since 2015. It has been in the Top 5 overall since 2011.

#2-552 Nashville, Tennessee – 23,159 – has been in the #2 spot ten times, and in #1 six times (2009-2014).

#3-Grand Rapids, Michigan – 22,838 – has maintained #3 position since 2019, up from #4 and #5 spots 2015-2018.

#4-Boise, Idaho – 21,312 – has been a Top 5 overall store for all 19 years, claiming #1 2007-2008 and the 4th overall spot since 2019.

#5-San Carlos, California – 12,865 – has been in the Top 5 overall since 2007, and has been in the #5 slot since 2016. 

Pen Turning Year Round

There are individuals and groups of woodturners who turn pens throughout the year and either submit the pens to the nearest Woodcraft store or mail them to the Woodcraft corporate office if they are not near a store.

•Members of The Tennessee Association of Woodturners (TAW), located in Nashville, turn pens year round that are included in the Nashville Woodcraft store’s annual total of pens turned for troops (1,301 this year). The TAW also held its own Turn for the Troops Turn IN on Nov. 5 that yielded 120 pens, and some members of the group also went that day to turn pens at the Nashville store’s turn-a-thon.

Villages Woodworkers Club, located at a retirement village in Florida, contributed 1,070 pens, their first time to pass the 1,000 mark. There are 1,200 members – 25% to 30% veterans. They turn pens twice a month, once at each of two state-of-the art woodshops. From 5 to 10 members come to each session, and 15 to 20 show up regularly.

New Mexico Woodturners, located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, turned 231 pens.

Old Country Guild of Woodturners from the Albany, New York, area turned 70 pens.

Ken Robillard – A first-time volunteer from Washington state, he contributed 12 pens and shares his story below.

Ken Robillard from Washington state sent this note to Woodcraft that explains his two-year journey from learning to turn to volunteering for Turn for Troops. His note to a pen recipient and one of his pens are included.

“Write a Letter to a Loved One”

A U.S. Army staff sergeant deployed in Poland donated Turn for Troops pens to the Red Cross and the chaplain there for the Red Cross “Write a Letter to a Loved One” event.

The soldiers used the pens to write letters and cards.

“It was amazing, and the soldiers loved the pens,” the staff sergeant said. 

Pen Requests

Requests for pens arrive at Woodcraft throughout the year, and Woodcraft personnel at the corporate office check with military contacts routinely about where to send pens. Sometimes stores will suggest where to send pens, and sometimes military personnel will reach out to Woodcraft after reading publicity about the annual event.

Pen Distribution

Although Woodcraft sponsors the Turn for Troops Turn-a-Thon around Veterans Day, pens are distributed year-round. In 2022, pens were shipped to individuals, military facilities, veterans’ organizations, and medical facilities in 22 states, to the USS George H. W. Bush, and to three other countries – Germany, Poland and Lithuania. Recipients represented all branches of the military.

For more information about the Turn for Troops program, click Frequently Asked Questions

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