Mt. Vernon Register-News

Features

March 6, 2011

Trauma doll makers

Local women make cloth dolls given to children at vehicle accidents and in hospital settings

MT. VERNON — Local residents at an assisted living facility in Mt. Vernon have found a way to touch the lives of young people in the community.

With the help of the Kiwanis Club of Mt. Vernon, a group of ladies at the Greentree Assisted Living facility have made close to 200 trauma dolls, which are cloth dolls given to children at vehicle accidents and in hospital settings.

“It’s a pacifier,” said Jefferson County Coroner Eddie Joe Marks. “It takes their minds off what’s going on.”

Marks and Kiwanis President Joyce Schrum discussed the idea at the Cedarhurst Craft Fair, and Schrum said she liked the idea of re-starting a trauma doll program in Mt. Vernon.

“They make 20,000 trauma dolls a year in Australia,” Schrum said of the Kiwanis Club. “We started doing it here in the United States after a convention, and we said that sounded like a good thing.”

Marks said when he worked as a firefighter, he and others gave out the trauma dolls during the 1980s or 1990s, but the practice faded out.

“I talked to Joyce Schrum at the Craft Fair and asked her,’Are you still doing that?” Marks said. “We came here and talked to (Juanita Volkert, retired activities director) and she said she was a part of it then and remembered it.”

Schrum said the group of ladies who cut out the fabric for the dolls and stuff them started at four, and then grew to about 12 women who enjoy the company and the service.

Greentree residents Gerdie O’Connell, Mary Jo Staples, Betty Owens, Agnes Maynor, Shirley Vest, Ula Dare and Margaret Nathlich are some of the women who take part in helping to make the trauma dolls.

“It’s a good way to socialize with the ladies in the group, and it’s one of the things we do,” Owens said. She added the group also makes blankets for a local hospice.

O’Connell called one blue trauma doll her baby and declared it was a boy.

The ladies at Greentree cut out the doll pattern, then it is sent to another person who sews it up except for a small hole, and then the dolls are sent back to the ladies for stuffing. The finished trauma dolls come with markers so children can draw on them.

“You cannot believe how valuable these are,” said Jefferson County Sheriff Roger Mulch to the group at Greentree. “They are an ice breaker, and stress relief. Thank you from our hearts.”

Mulch said the sheriff’s department goes through at least 200 dolls or stuffed animals a year.

“I’ve used them myself,” he said. “These dolls, when the kids get to color them themselves, it makes it their own. You’d be surprised what they draw on the dolls, sometimes it’s happy, sometimes it’s sad. They have helped us get kids out of a car where mom or dad are hurt. It’s just a great, great thing.”

Dare said the activity was important to her group at Greentree.

“It just makes us feel like we’re doing something,” she said.

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