Carroll Hackbart’s handiwork dots the city of Manhattan.
Hackbart uses his craftsmanship in his volunteering with several organizations around town. Since moving to St. George more than 20 years ago, Hackbart has given back to the community by donating his creations and his time.
“I appreciate that I have the ability to do something kids have fun with or that other people enjoy having,” he said.
Hackbart, 85, moved to St. George in 1995 following his retirement from the USDA Soil Conservation Service. His career had taken him to Montana, Utah, Texas and even to Pakistan and Egypt, but he and his wife, Barbara, settled on a property that had been owned by her relatives.
Hackbart, a member of the Men’s Garden Club, loves to garden and has created a sprawling garden outside his home, including benches, bridges and a gazebo that he built himself.
“In the summer I work in the garden and in the winter I work in the shop,” Hackbart said.
He soon began volunteering for several organizations in the area. The Hackbarts are members of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, and he helped rebuild a playground at their Early Learning Center. He also has contributed activities to the Wonder Workshop. Hackbart also drives for Meals on Wheels and works with Habitat for Humanity.
The project at St. Luke’s came about a few years ago when the Early Learning Center needed upgrading. Hackbart said there was a concrete ditch running through the middle, metal pipes that ran up to the building and little equipment for the kids.
Hackbart’s team of helpers covered the concrete channel, built a fence around the pipes and installed new activities, including a ball run game and musical instruments made from plastic pipes. Hackbart also transported a playhouse he had built for his grandchildren in Texas to the church.
“About the time we were getting ready to renovate this, they grew up,” he said. “They asked if we could use it, so we went down there, they helped me take it apart, we put it in the van and brought it to Manhattan.”
Tracie Hudson, assistant director at the center, said it was a fresh start for the center and that Hackbart is always willing to go above and beyond to help them.
“He would work on it while the students were there, so they saw how he was being a servant as well,” Hudson said. “The kids got to be a part of that.”
Hudson said staff members enjoy showing items Hackbart provided to new families.
“We’re proud to be able to say one of our members dedicated the time to make it nice,” she said.
Hackbart built similar projects at the Wonder Workshop. He constructed small playhouses and put together some “builder boards” for the kids to play with.
The boards fit together similar to Lincoln Logs but are much larger, allowing the kids to build their own little playhouse.
It’s the kind of entertainment Hackbart also tried to provide to his own grandchildren.
Hackbart and his wife have three children and eight grandchildren, and he said he always made toys and playsets for them.
“Rather than buying toys for my grandkids, I made toys,” he said. “You’ve got to be a bit creative too.”
Over the years, he made them small trains, construction sets and toy cars. He built them backyard play sets (including one shaped like a train), dollhouses and games.
“I dream about them,” Hackbart said.
Hackbart said the projects he works on for his grandkids are extra special.
“I think it’s things they will keep,” he said.
When they visit, he often enlists them for his volunteering outings.
“When I know my grandkids are going to be here, I schedule them as my helpers,” Hackbart said. “They enjoy that.”
Hackbart has had the opportunity to travel to St. Thomas after Hurricane Marilyn and to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina to assist with recovery, but most of his volunteering has left a tangible mark closer to home, such as the homes he’s worked on with Habitat for Humanity.
“When you drive by that house, you think about what you did there,” he said.