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Ellijay, GA
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Dolls crafted for kids around the world

Ann Metcalf, right, adjusts a doll pattern, while Regina Glausier adds stuffing to a nearly completed toy during a “dollathon” last week. (Photo by Whitney Crouch)
Local crafters make dolls for kids around the world

by Whitney Crouch

A group of women held an old-fashioned sewing bee last week to make dolls for children in third world countries.

Members of Ellijay’s Operation Christmas Child community relations team met at Thrift, a local recycle store, Thursday, May 14, and used donated fabrics and pillow stuffing to create more than 100 “butterbean pattern” dolls.

Later in the year, the toys will be placed in shoeboxes, along with hygiene items and school supplies. They will then be distributed as part of Operation Christmas Child, an initiative started by the Christian relief ministry Samaritan’s Purse. Each year millions of shoeboxes are hand-packed with gifts and delivered to children in need throughout the world.

“It’s so exciting to be a part of this,” stated volunteer Bernadette Lee at the Ellijay craft event. “It’s just a wonderful project ... women love making these dolls.”

Reporting how the group prays for the little girls who will receive the dolls as gifts, she also explained how the work is a tangible way for the crafters to have an impact and to participate in mission work.

Lee noted the dolls were made assembly-line style last week and more volunteers are always welcome to help with the project.

From cutting patterns to adding stuffing, there’s even plenty to do for people who do not feel comfortable operating a sewing machine.

“We just need a lot of hands with love,” Lee noted, explaining how there is a push to increase the number of shoeboxes packed in the local community.

Two years ago, Gilmer County collected about 600 boxes for Operation Christmas Child. In 2014, the figure rose to around 1,700.

The community relations team has set a goal of collecting 3,007 boxes this fall.

“So we need a lot of dolls and boxes,” laughed Lee, adding the group plans to host a community packing party later in the year.

Donations of supplies for making the dolls are also appreciated.

“Many women have gobs of fabrics that they’ve not done anything with,” Lee noted, adding the group will also take gently used pillows that have been washed to use as doll stuffing.

The Operation Christmas Child volunteers meet on a weekday each month, and the next gathering will take place Wednesday, June 17, at noon at 449 Industrial Boulevard Suite 250 in Ellijay.

In addition to making dolls, they have tackled other projects, including making hair bows and dancing ribbon wands and assembling small fishing and sewing kits.

Lee stated there’s also a group of men working on building wooden cars to put in shoeboxes for boys. As she recalled, volunteers recently took some of these toys to the Gilmer Senior Center where participants helped sand the cars in preparation for painting.

To learn more about how to get involved call (770) 330-7899 or visit

For more information about Operation Christmas Child, visit
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