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Published: Wednesday, 1/5/2005

Delta: Gifts bring joy to orphans in Cambodia

BY ELIZABETH A. SHACK
BLADE STAFF WRITER

DELTA - Every Tuesday morning for the past two months, women from Shiloh Christian Union Church met to turn scraps of fabric into soft, smiling dolls.

Each of the 167 dolls will be given to children at two orphanages in hospice villages near Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The villages are home to people with AIDS and their families, who come to the villages because of the disease's stigma, Tammy Segrist said.

The women made boy dolls in shirts and pants, girls with dresses and long crocheted curls, and bald babies. All the clothing was sewn to the bodies so it wouldn't get lost, and eyes were painted so they wouldn't be a choking hazard.

The women named the dolls and wrote the names on their backs with the year 2005. Each doll also has a heart drawn on it.

Mrs. Segrist, who with her husband has adopted children from Cambodia, will be part of the team that delivers the dolls to the children late this month. Her mother designed the pattern two years ago when the group sent dolls to a refugee camp.

The group, known as the Tuesday Morning Quilters, has been meeting for 30 or 40 years. They take donations of fabric and quilt batting to make blankets for teenage mothers and families whose homes are destroyed by fire. They also make stocking caps.

Arvis Weaks said that when they see a need, they try to fill it.

They used leftover materials to make the dolls, stuffing them with scraps from their blanket-making projects and dressing them in clothes sewn from donated or leftover fabric.

"I don't think we bought anything," Arla Fry said.

They started the dolls in mid-November, Mrs. Weaks said.

They gathered around a large table in a heated garage to make the dolls' bodies. They divided up the tasks, and some women took the bodies home for stuffing.

"It took a lot of time to stuff all those arms and legs and bodies," Mary Kessler said.

Mrs. Weaks made most of the clothes, and others sewed it to the bodies and painted faces.

"We've got it down to a fine art," Hazel Armstrong said.

Barb Pearl stayed up until 1 a.m. crocheting hair.

"We all did whatever needed to be done," she said.



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