As I began to improve mentally, I thought to myself, “Now that I don’t have to be depressed anymore, what will I do with all this spare time?”
The answer came to me in this way. I have a BFF named Christine, a person of solid faith, who is the most wonderful crafter. She has a sister who was once involved with a project where a company donated baby dolls and asked ladies to make clothes for them. This combined in my head with the habit Christine and I had of going thrift store shopping. We had begun to notice a lot of good quality dolls and stuffed animals for little money at the thrifts. The idea for the Doll Project was born: we would buy dolls and animals; clean them up and make repairs; and sew clothes, blankets, hats etc for them with a cloth bag to put it all in; buy little toys, hair bows, and shoes and socks for each; and to donate them. At this time, we made the acquaintance of a lady who was on the board of several battered women’s shelters who could distribute the toys to those in need.
Over the years, the Doll Project grew to include many other ladies and even children. I used to commute on the train every day and I would sew for the Doll Project many days. Once I was chatting with a lady and her teenage son, who asked what I was doing. When I explained, she pulled out $20 and gave it to me. “I was one of those women,” she said. Her boy piped up to remind me that boys needed toys too and from then on, we made sure to make boy animals and dolls.
The chaos of Doll Day will long be remembered fondly. We would call in all our friends for one day of sorting the monumental piles of goods and packing them into bags, then labeling them for Boy or Girl. Christine would put together a lovely “lady lunch” to thank everyone for their hard work. In the beginning, we gave each doll a name and adoption certificate and a list of all the things in the bag. This got overwhelming and the more dolls we had, the crazier it got. I had ½ of a storage unit filled with doll stuff and Christine had filled a spare shower to the ceiling. The year we filled the entire bed of a modest sized pick-up truck convinced us that we had to scale down.
We never went to see the children received the dolls and animals. Our imagination alone could make us tear up. And when our friend who delivered the sacks to the children wrote us a thank you note about the “little angels,” we cried outright. Neither of us cries easily or likes to cry, so we stayed away.
My friend continues the Doll Project in California, getting Girl Scouts to come stuff the bags with all of the items that go with each doll or animal. I am currently looking for a person or facility that would like to receive the dolls and animals here in Virginia. I can store them at my church and deliver them on demand, or bring about 30 packed, labeled bags to the facility. I believe I can get them ready by Christmas; I have to set up a Doll Day to sort everything.
Carol Kerr Buckles