St. Joseph’s Tool Chest collects donated tools and has partnered with many agencies to donate the items they receive. (Submitted photo)

A small group run by local Catholics in New Berlin is making a difference around the world by refurbishing thousands of used donated tools for charity — and you can help.

St. Joseph’s Tool Chest is a local independent nonprofit, largely run by volunteers and parishioners from Holy Apostles Parish. Its New Berlin office is open three days per week, with 24 regular volunteers, working together to restore and refurbish donated items.

On Saturday, May 11, St. Joseph’s hosted its spring tool drive, where they received dozens of carloads of donations. It was their second donation event this year, following their previous April Tools Day Drive on April 20.

“April Tools was very cold and the wind was fierce this year,” said Secretary Gene Kaczkowski. “Eighty-five cars showed up, compared to previous years when 120 showed up. We generally do them every two years, as we get so much stuff to work through.”

They’re regularly impressed with the diligence and kindness of the people who donate regularly, including one woman who donates more than $1,000 of new tools to them during their drives that she collects through Menard’s payback rewards program.

“We had one woman who came by on April Tools Day who works at a volunteer place and regularly gets stuff donated they can’t use,” said President Scott Briscoe. “She got a little emotional and told us her tools belonged to her grandfather, and she was happy they were going to get a new life with somebody. Not that I want to be sacrilegious, but we are giving these tools a second life. Many of these tools have ended their useful lives but they’re reborn here and go out to be useful elsewhere.”

The tool drive was founded by Ron Kroll, a tool and die maker who first organized it in 2008 after attending a mission trip to Ecuador. The group was moved from Sussex to New Berlin after Kroll’s poor health forced him to cease leading the operation. He passed away in 2023.

The group’s largest client is the Salvatorian Mission Warehouse in New Holstein. They also serve dozens of missions, nonprofits, charities and local diocesan organizations, including the Urban Ecology Center in Washington Park, the SET Community Garden and Orchard Project, the Valley of the Kings Sanctuary and Retreat in Sharon, Women in Preservation on Plum Island, and the Haiti Project in Green Bay. They regularly ship their tools internationally through charities to South America, Africa and the Caribbean, and collaborate with groups like 125 Live in Rochester, Minnesota.

St. Joseph’s Tool Chest doesn’t advertise itself and operates through word of mouth to find donations, volunteers and clients. They regularly receive walk-in donations and have highly specialized volunteers to process donations, including an electrical engineer, a mechanical engineer, a woodworker, a tool and die maker, and more.

“I found out about it through Holy Apostles,” said Briscoe. “I was motivated to join because they were listed in the parish bulletin. It said volunteering was flexible. The great thing about volunteering here is that you can come when you want, leave when you want, and do what you want. So, I went to try it out, but I didn’t know anything about tools. Gene pointed me to a five-gallon bucket full of sockets that needed to be sorted and cleaned. Then we had April Tools Day that year and I worked to condense piles of donations. I know what hammers and screwdrivers look like and I can organize them to make room.”

However, their success in building a remarkable stock of refurbished tools has created a growing need for volunteers. In particular, St. Joseph’s needs volunteers with experience doing electrical repairs and repairing gas motors, as their pile of push mowers, generators, weed whackers, chainsaws and corded power tools is only continuing to grow.

“Ron always said you won’t have a problem getting enough tools in the door, but getting enough volunteers,” said Briscoe. “Some of this stuff has been sitting here untouched for three years.”

St. Joseph’s has ambitions to expand their list of clients and do more locally. Briscoe welcomes any local parishes, non-Catholic churches or nonreligious organizations to reach out, saying they want St. Joseph’s to become the “hardware store of first resort” for local groups that need quality tools for grounds and building maintenance.

“The name of the organization is appropriate for working with tools. St. Joseph was a carpenter, who worked with wood tools, hand tools, and all that kind of stuff,” said Emeritus President Bill Jonas.

St. Joseph’s Tool Chest can be contacted through email at, its website,, or by phone at 262-710-0843.