Area kids learning to "do-it-yourself" at an early age at Home Depot
On a warm and sunny Saturday morning in Panama City Beach, some younger do-it-yourselfers were busy hammering out a good time.
"[At] the end of this month, the Angry Birds movie comes out. We've already got the Angry Birds birdhouse already, " said Paul Ehrenfeld, who runs the kids workshops at the Panama City Beach Home Depot.
From 9 a.m. until noon every first Saturday of the month, every Home Depot across the United States welcomes kids to show off their creative side.
"[This is] the greatest program around for Home Depot," said Ehrenfeld.
"I heard from my friend that something's going on today at Home Depot and we decided to check it out," said Elena Hagan of Panama City Beach. "I have a five year-old boy. It's never too early to teach them construction I think."
"They're very serious. They're very competitive," said Ehrenfeld. "They'll make sure that their parents know it's the first Saturday of the month and we need to be at the Home Depot."
Ehrenfeld has been doing this for 17 years. And says he absolutely loves it.
"At the end of the day they're going to take their project home, and play with it and be proud of it," said Ehrenfeld. "And the fact that I had a hand in making sure their day was exceptional is my payback."
"We're really having fun," said Irina Brooks of Panama City Beach. "[My son] Daniel loves to build and put stuff together, and then paint it. And he can't wait to come back again. He's always asking me."
"Well, I really just want to do something on Saturdays 'cause their just like chill days where you chill from school," said nine year-old Mariya Maslak.
"A lot of my children have shelves built up in their living room and the bedrooms with the projects that they had built, all lined up on the shelves," said Ehrenfeld. "They're as proud of those projects are as I am doing this program."
Ehrenfeld says about 150 kids show up every month, some with tools already in hand.
"A lot of my children, they'll come with their own hammers now," said Ehrenfeld. "A couple of my children have a little tool box with tape measures. They'll be out there measuring the project. Stuff not even in the directions but they're taking the initiative, and I'm figuring in a couple years, they'll be building their parents a new house."
Two Panama City Beach children, brother and sister Tyler and Casey, have been coming to the workshops since they were less than a year old. That's about ten years for each. And they have the pins to prove it, more than a hundred of them.
"They've done it before," said Ehrenfeld. "They know exactly what to do. I basically give them their project and they're off doing it."
And no two projects at the workshop look the same.
"Basically I just did it white and black," said nine year-old Echo Johnson of Panama City Beach referring to her birdhouse. "And then I put a bunch of stickers on it to make it more colorful."
And more colorful is just how the how Home Depot wants to make these kids' lives.
The program is free and open to kids of all ages. They receive an apron when they arrive, and then a pin when they complete their projects.