Handmade dolls bring joy to skilled care facility residents

Colorful handmade dolls recently brought joy to numerous residents at Candlewood Valley Health & Rehabilitation in New Milford.

Members off The Giving Doll Club of Oxford — a chapter of the national The Giving Doll non-profit organization based in Ohio — delivered about a dozen dolls its members made for the skilled care center.

Recipients oohed and aahed when members Marilyn DeMarche and Oxford Greens Chapter coordinator Pat Dunton carried the dolls into the room in a basket, with bright, woven hair poking out over the edges of the baskets.

Residents’ eyes brightened and smiles erupted as the Sunset Dolls — dolls made and given to elder individuals — were handed out one by one to residents, who immediately hugged them tightly.

Red, blue, green, silver, white, yellow, pink or multi-color hair adorned the top of each soft doll that featured eyes of blue, brown or green.

Dolls were dressed in a handmade outfit and carried a tag with a name.

The dolls were constructed by chapter members. Each member created a part of the doll — arms, legs, hair, body and clothes — that were eventually assembled.

Dunton said she was touched by the chapter’s visit when she saw “the faces and actions of the ladies when they were given a doll to hold.”

“I had tears in my eyes and such overwhelming joy in my heart,” Dunton said. “I cannot wait to share this with ‘my ladies’ who are the core of our group.”

Founded in 2006 by Jan Householder, The Giving Doll began as a community volunteer project that provided handmade cloth dolls to children.

Householder’s friend’s daughter, Katherine, was the first recipient of a doll while a patient at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

The doll was constructed by volunteer sewers and delivered by Katherine to the hospital when she received treatments.

“As other needs became apparent, the program expanded to include children in a variety of settings worldwide,” The Giving Doll website states.

Since then, numerous chapters across the country have been established, including the Oxford chapter.

It is estimated 50,000 dolls have been made since the organization’s conception.

Dolls are distributed to domestic violence victims, homeless shelters, individual children, the elderly and through other organizations.

The Oxford chapter, made up of approximately 20 to 25 members, was founded in 2015. This past July, the chapter made its 500th doll.

For more photographs, visit newmilfordspectrum.com.