It’s no fun being sick. Through years of experience, most adults understand that dealing with pain, discomfort, fatigue, frailties and fear can be among life’s most daunting challenges. When it comes to children, those challenges can be compounded with limited understanding and a difficulty to express the thoughts and emotions that are, no doubt, swirling inside.
For more than two decades, a group of volunteer older adults at the Lincolnia Senior Center have made it their mission to bring smiles to the faces and comfort to the hearts of thousands of young patients at local hospitals by using their talents to create handcrafted dolls. Far from being just another toy in the toy box, the dolls serve as a valuable tool to teach young patients about their medical procedures, communicate how they feel, engage their creativity and provide a reassuring cuddle when things get a little overwhelming.
“In the more than 20 years that this group has been active, they have created and donated more than 40,000 dolls to local hospitals,” said Karen Albers, Director of the Lincolnia Senior Center. “It is truly a wonder to be able to witness the loving generosity and care that goes into each doll as well as the smiles that, for however brief or long a moment, provide a break from the discomfort and fear they may be experiencing.”
The Lincolnia Dollmakers have been enthusiastically supported by the Annandale Women’s Club and the Lincolnia Advisory Council – providing materials, work and storage space, sewing machines and financial support. The support has enabled older adults from across the county to participate, sometimes remotely, in whatever capacity they are able – whether it is crocheting hair strands to be assembled later or crafting the handmade clothing that goes on each doll.
“Projects and programs such as this one are what Fairfax County Senior Centers are all about,” said Albers. “They bring older adults of all ages, abilities and backgrounds together to engage with each other; to utilize, enhance and pass along their knowledge and talents; and to have meaningful and fulfilling experiences as they touch the lives of those around them in the communities they know and love.”
How can you help? The Lincolnia Dollmakers are always looking for new dollmakers or community organizations who wish to participate in supporting this effort for years to come. It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned sewer or a beginner – learning is half the fun! If you are interested in participating or supporting the Lincolnia Dollmakers, please contact the Lincolnia Senior Center at 703-914-0330, TTY 711.