Hospice Dolls & Angels
Why Do We Make All Those Dolls, Angels and Hearts You Ask??
Since 2011, the Hospice Dolls Volunteer Group -- of the Ocean Ridge Charities Association (ORCA) -- has hand crafted over 2,700 dolls, angels, and hearts for patients and their family members. That task involved a lot of measuring, tracing, cutting, stitching, curling, stuffing, nipping and tucking – culminating in really cute dolls dressed in colorful shirts and pants, angels all heavenly in toile, wings and halo, and spongey hearts ready to comfort little and old ones alike.
The group meets monthly on the first Tuesday, 3-5 p.m., at the Plantation Club’s Members Lounge. Over the years, we’ve averaged between 35-40 members annually. Our lively group of ladies has lots of fun making different parts and pieces that assemble into dolls, angels and hearts to be provided to Lower Cape Fear Hospice in Bolivia for Brunswick County residents in need of hospice’s professional assistance.
These hand-made items are used for different purposes but all are geared to assisting Hospice counselors teach family members to overcome their sadness and deal with their situation – or to touch a child with something to love. Whether a heart is used to let a small boy deal with a moment of grief in front of his friends and avoid being teased – because that boy was taught by Hospice grief counselors to remember happy moments, and squeezing the inconspicuous heart (hidden unseen in his pocket) brings that good memory to his attention. Or an angel gives a widow a gentle way to remember her beloved husband, or for her grandchild to hang her angel on their Christmas tree each year and remember something special about her grandfather. We also made over 50 larger angels that were distributed by local ORCA-supported charities to homeless families with children during the holidays last year.
Hospice Dolls is a long standing member of Ocean Ridge’s group activities, and our volunteers and neighbors routinely donate thread, colorful fabric for doll clothes and hearts, or ribbon and stuffing, all of which are welcome and appreciated. Our volunteers come and go during the meetings as their time allows, take “work” home and bring it back to the next meeting. Visitors are always welcome to drop in and see what we are all about. Our three Hospice Dolls coordinators (Peggy Burris, Mary Perno, and Nancy Roman) are on hand to help volunteers and tell stories about what hospice does for families and especially about how our hand-made gifts can give comfort.
Recently, a group of veterans were at the hospice facility to meet other vets as ORCA was delivering veteran angels for patients’ families. It was touching to see those vets bent over looking at the angels -- plus a doll or two in khaki. They thanked us and said they knew their comrades’ families would be pleased to receive such a gift.
The Ocean Ridge Charities Association’s Board Members Thank All Our Volunteers For Giving Us Your Time and Talents To Help Others – To Make A Difference In Lives of People You Will Most Likely Never Meet! BRAVO !!! We Could Not Have Done It Without You !!!
Hospice Doll Volunteer Social
ORCA holds a Thank You social for Volunteers to celebrate the making of the 1,000th Doll
Ocean Ridge Plantation Club
August 2, 2016
2:00 - 4:00 PM
Over the last 5 years, dozens of Ocean Ridge women have spent hundreds of hours crafting hundreds of dolls and angels, as well as heating pads, for hospice patients and their families at SECU Hospice House of Brunswick. In fact, they’ve spent over 1,300 hours making these products. The Hospice doll makers recently completed their 1,000th project and Ocean Ridge Charities Association Inc. (ORCA) held a Social at the Plantation Club on August 2nd to thank all the wonderful volunteers who have given their time so that others may be comforted. While the event was planned to celebrate the 1,000th project, by the time the event occurred, the group had made 107 more for a total of 1,107. The Social’s centerpieces (below) displayed the group’s handiwork.
The dolls project grew out of a similar effort of making dolls for children at a Texas hospital. When that was about to fold in 2011, former ORCA Board member, Merrianne Orndoff, stepped in and started the program in the Ocean Ridge community. In 2012, Peggy Burris took over when Merrianne moved out of state. Since that time, the ORCA dolls and angels project has delivered 390 dolls, 667 angels, and 50 rice filled heating pads to SECU Hospice House of Brunswick. On August 18, Pam Bank (L) and Peggy Burris (C) presented the 1,107th doll and angel to Haylie Long, the Lower Cape Fear Hospice Community Outreach Coordinator.
There have been 81 women who have helped make these items since the program began. Every one of the volunteers are valuable to making these products, although special recognition goes to the following residents who have been critically involved from the very beginning: Karen Arnold, Pam Bank and Sue Carano, who cut and sewed almost all of the doll shirts and pants, and did so almost every month of every year. Diane Hotop drew the vast majority of the doll faces, along with hair, hats and poseys. Every single one was different and always cute and matched the doll outfit and gender. Motoko Hatfield cut and sewed most of the doll forms while Mary Pat Lynch and Mary Ann Mahoney have helped in practically every aspect of the doll and angel production while also attending the most number of meetings and helping from home. To see the complete list of volunteers, go to www.orcharities.org, see ‘How You Can Help’ and click on ‘Hospice Dolls’.
The Hospice Doll Thank you Social began by Mike Gildea, President of ORCA, making a few remarks and extending a sincere Thank You to the volunteers for their efforts. Peggy Burris, then, spoke and provided some eye opening statistics of just how many steps it takes to make the dolls, angels and heating pads and how many hours these wonderful volunteers put in to make it all happen over the years.
Lindsey Champion, the Development Manager for the Lower Cape Fear Hospice Foundation, then shared with the group some stories about how these dolls have brought joy and comfort to not only the hospice patient but to their families and friends as well. She also mentioned that one of the missionaries, visiting patients from their congregation, noticed the dolls at the Brunswick facility and asked if they could have some made for them to take to a Haitian Christian school for the youngest children entering kindergarten. The Hospice Doll volunteers got to work making 6 dolls especially for these students and dressed them in bright colored clothing to help them associate their culture with their new dolls. These dolls were the children’s very first dolls.
Many volunteers attended the Social, where the treats included a selection of cheese, veggies, fruit, wine and sangria and, of course, cake. It was a wonderful event and chance for ORCA and the SECU Hospice House of Brunswick to thank all of the wonderful and generous volunteers who have made these dolls, angels and heating pads in support of patients and their families facing the challenges of advanced illness.
If you want to be a Hospice Doll Volunteer or want to
find out more about the program, contact Peggy Burris at email@example.com.
Ocean Ridge community members have been making and delivering Hospice Dolls and Angels for several years now.
Every month members of the Hospice Dolls and Angels Volunteer Group meet at the Plantation Club on the first Tuesday between 1:00 and 3:30 pm to craft dolls, angels and sometimes rice-filled bags as microwaveable heating pads. Their work is the only activity of the Ocean Ridge Charities Association, Inc. (ORCA) not devoted entirely to raising funds for charity. Instead, the Dolls/Angels project encourages Ocean Ridgers to donate their time and talent to bring comfort to patients and their families as they navigate through end-of-life issues when in the care of the SECU Hospice House of Brunswick up the road in Bolivia.
And the feedback we get from Hospice is heartening:
While packing a suitcase of a patient who had passed away, the nurse was startled when the wife cried out, jumped up and grabbed the angel the nurse had just placed on the top of her late husband’s belongings. The wife explained she had deeply regretted not having anything to remember this last place they shared together, since she had devotedly collected special mementoes from every place they ever lived. Now she said, she has something tangible to remember the place where her husband, as well as herself, received such loving care.
Upon leaving an elderly women’s house, the patient’s adult daughter ran to the door to thank the Hospice’s visiting nurse for giving her our rice-filled heating pad because it resolved a problem for them. The heavier, conventional heating pads discomforted her mother and our microwaveable heating pad was perfect. The daughter had never heard of such a pad and she had tears in her eyes as she thanked the nurse.
One evening a nurse at the hospice house peaked into her elderly male patient’s room and saw that he was snuggling a doll. Not surprising, except for the man’s earlier reaction when the nurse placed the doll on his bed. He grumbled that “it was stupid to give a man a doll.” Lonely and without visitors, she thought it might help him, and was delighted to see his grin while hugging the doll as he nodded off to sleep.
After poking through the basket of dolls, a three year old challenged the head nurse declaring “you know, you really need to get more girl dolls because little girls do not play with boy dolls.” Hospice called ORCA’s coordinator who delivered several girl dolls the next morning. The next day when she visited her granddad again she was happy to pick out her very own girl doll from the new array. Playing with the doll refocused her attention away from worrying about her granddad and onto her new doll. According to staff, the rest of her visits were less stressful for the child -- and her mother.
Since late 2011 the ORCA dolls and angels project has delivered over 300 dolls, 320 angels, and 50 rice filled heating pads to SECU Hospice House of Brunswick. We sincerely hope that others will join us during our monthly meetings or pitch in by working from home. In a touching way, our dolls, angels and heating pads do make a difference—as do our volunteers!
If you would like to join this effort, please contact Peggy Burris at firstname.lastname@example.org.