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Giving Back – One Woman’s Very Special Gift

Some time back, I received an email from my friend Caroline Archer, a fellow quilter and former work associate.  She said “how about meeting for lunch, I have something I’d like to show you.” When we got together, she brought out a lovely doll, and a complete wardrobe she’d made which included skirts, pants, blouses, dresses, pajamas, shoes, hand knit sweaters and hats. She told me she had a plan to give a gift of the doll and a complete wardrobe to girls who are hospitalized with serious illnesses. 

Isn't she cute with her hand-knit sweater and hat!

That was two years ago, and since then Caroline and her band of volunteer sewers and knitters (including me), have donated over 150 dolls (each with a wardrobe of about ten outfits), to three San Francisco area children’s hospitals. “I think they bring creativity, I think they bring warmth, and the main thing I think they bring is a friend,” Caroline said, “It’s that friend in the middle of the night they can talk to when they’re hurting or if they’re scared.”

The dolls are the 14” Les Cheries from Corolle. Caroline has developed patterns for each of the clothing and knitted items for the Les Cheries dolls. The program continues to expand, with baby dolls added last year for the younger girls (the Tidoo baby doll, also from Corolle). She has enlisted quilter friends at the Cotton Patch in Lafayette, CA, who have contributed funds for dolls as well as handmade clothes, sweaters and quilts.  The Dharma Trading Co., in San Rafael, CA has displayed a model doll along with information on the project and instructions for knitting the sweaters and hats.

Les Cheries doll with new outfit!

Caroline’s always looking for volunteers to help sew the doll clothes and would love to see the program expanded to other hospitals in different parts of the country. If you’re interested, you can contact Caroline directly via email For a comprehensive look at the program, visit her website

I’ve accompanied Caroline to the hospitals when she delivers the dolls, and the response is genuine and heartfelt. When the holidays are over, why not give this program some thought. Whether it’s making doll clothes, knitting a doll sweater, or starting the program in your own area – it will make a difference in the life of a young girl facing serious illness.

Caroline was recently the recipient of a Jefferson Award in the Bay Area, for sharing her love and craftsmanship with children in crisis. I’m in awe of what she has accomplished and proud to call her my friend.

Merry Christmas and all the best for a healthy, happy, creative 2012!

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