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'Santa's Little Hackers' providing adaptive toys for kids this holiday season

Posted at 11:16 AM, Nov 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-17 13:19:17-05

WESTMINSTER, Colo. -- It's always great to see the smile on a kid's face when they open a toy they've been wanting Christmas morning, but for some children a special physical challenge can prevent them from ever owning a toy.

Steve and Deana Watson's kitchen table looks a lot like Santa's workshop this time of year.

They take store-bought toys and change a few wires to adapt them for special needs children.

“Many of the toys we deal with have a switch that's in the hand or foot, and we are just literally extending the circle outside the toy so a switch can be plugged into it,” Steve Watson said.

They decided to do this because of their teenage son Max, who has a rare medical condition called Cobalamin X.

“He's a happy-go-lucky 14-year-old that just happens to live in a body that doesn't work like yours and mine,” Steve said.

Steve is an engineer and figured it couldn't be hard to change the toys so Max could activate a toy's sound by pushing a button instead of a small switch.

The parts to adapt the toys cost just a couple of bucks, but that’s nothing compared to the $60 mark-up some companies charge for an adaptive model sold online.

“His speech therapist was like, 'Can you make one of these for some of my other kids?' And from there we were like… I bet a lot of kids could use these toys. We should just make them and give them away for Christmas,” said Deana Watson.

From there, Max's Mods was born, and for the past four years, Santa's Little Hackers has created toys for more than 1,200 children all over the world -- for free.

“It gives him, and all of the kids that we service, independence to play. Someone doesn't have to play with the toy for them,” Deana said.

For younger kids the toys also teach them to use important adaptive buttons.

They are key to learning how to use tablets and speaking devices to communicate.

“We know what this means. We know how special it is to see your kid play for the first time. And every year we get parents who say, 'You know, my kid is 15 years old and he's never had a toy,’” Deana said.

Steve and Deana are depending on your help to make that happen.

They need toys donated before December 2nd.

A toy wish list is posted to their website,, so all you have to do is click a few buttons to donate, and the toy will be shipped to them.

"Unfortunately, every year some of them pass away, and we have parents who say, ‘You know, can we send the toy to another kid who didn't get one last year,’ and it's a community and it's pretty special that that was started right here,” Deana said.

December 2, 2017, Santa’s Little Hackers is holding a big event where volunteers can come out and help them adapt the toys to be sent out to children all over the world.

The event is from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM MST at Adams 12 Five Star Schools, 1500 East 128th Avenue, Thornton, CO 80241.

You don’t need any experience to volunteer and if you would like to help RSVP to their event here.