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My eldest niece, Carolina, was where the whole idea began. It was great to start with her for several reasons. My wife Rhonda and I are her godparents, and we babysat with her numerous times when she was just a little tyke. I still have the kitchen timer in the shape of a bottle of wine in an ice bucket she gave me as a Christmas gift when she was five.

My niece Carolina

Carolina at home from college this Christmas. She says her hope chest “became so priceless to me when I moved away to college. Having it in my dorm room, along with all of my treasured reminders of home tucked away inside, meant the world to me!”

As she grew older, Carolina’s curiosity became even more pronounced, and she was very interested in my woodworking. I can remember when she was about nine or ten years old. Her mom Karen and my wife were out shopping, so I was watching Carolina and her older brother for an extended afternoon.


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