More pink than normal filled the Sweet Cheeks Modern Natural Baby shop on Saturday.
A steady flow of patrons piled dolls of all kinds into a corner of the Monroe Street store in Sylvania during the third annual Betty Maveal Memorial Doll Drive. The event, organized by sisters Deidra Montrie of Lambertville and Adele Lietaert of Monroe, is both a toy collection drive for the Toys for Tots program and homage to their late grandmother Ms. Maveal of Monroe, an avid doll collector who donated them herself for years.
The two previous drives were just among family and friends; in the first year, the sisters collected 85 dolls, increasing to 112 last year. But this year, the pair expanded their efforts to the public and moved the event from one of their homes to the baby shop.
By 1 p.m., more than 160 princess and baby dolls were stacked in their boxes. In all, 198 dolls were brought to the store, and six others were donated at other times in memory of their grandmother.
"Think of all the kids that will be happy on Christmas morning," Ms. Lietaert said as she looked at the growing pile.
Pink, of course, was the dominant color, but not all the dolls were designed and destined for girls -- dolls for boys were in the mix as well.
The turnout thrilled the sisters, they said, especially because of the continued poor economy. Donations are to be split between the Monroe and Lucas counties' Toys for Tots drives. Toys for Tots is a national program sponsored by the U.S. Marines.
Jenny Otersen brought three dolls -- one each selected by herself and daughters Kaitie and Emily. Ms. Otersen, who works with Ms. Montrie at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, said she's donated in previous drives.
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It was not only an opportunity to donate to children in need; the event let her daughters experience the joy of giving and the lesson that not every child is fortunate enough to get a toy on Christmas, she said.
"I think this is just a great cause," Ms. Otersen said.
Local bakeries donated cookies, a welcome surprise for the children who came with dolls to give. Store co-owner Amanda Emch, who met Ms. Montrie both as a customer and as a nurse, said she was happy to host the event.
The Sylvania doll drive isn't the only done in Ms. Maveal's honor. Similar events are being held by family members in North Carolina and Arizona.
In North Carolina, the sisters said, 125 dolls were donated to the cause. A doll count was unavailable for the Arizona drive.
Ms. Maveal lived in Monroe and died in 2009. She never had dolls as a child but collected them enthusiastically when she was older. Ms. Maveal started collecting dolls for donations in 1987.
Local Marines who picked up the dolls Saturday night after the drive ended told the sisters their supplies this year for girls from infancy up to 9 years old were especially low this year, so the dolls were a welcome sight.
With the success of Saturday's event, the sisters plan to expand future doll collections.
Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: email@example.com or 419-724-6086.