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Local dresses,donates dozens of dolls

by Susan Bromley

July 20, 2011

Ann Harvey with dolls she is working on to give to the Community Christmas Toy Store for local children this year. Photo by Patrick McAbee.
Brandon Twp.- On two beds in Ann Harvey's township home, dozens of baby dolls, maybe 60 in all, are lined up in rows.

Some have bonnets, others wear pants or blouses trimmed with lace, a few even have their shoes on, but all are works in progress. Nearby are squares of bright fabric, in cute prints, as well as yards of lace in every shape and color.

Harvey has been buying as many dolls as she can from garage sales and thrift shops for the past four years. She selects dolls of all sizes and colors, but none with actual hair (she can't straighten it) or ink stains. Once the dolls are rescued, she brings them home and runs them through the washer or cleans them up by hand. Harvey adds stuffing where needed and then she begins the work she really loves— she makes outfits for the dolls.

"They get short pants, long pants, nightgowns, dresses, whatever I think fits the doll's personality," said Harvey, who is in her 80s. "I pick out a material I want to use with them and when I finish a doll, I start cutting materials and making dresses or pants." Harvey's dolls are a labor of love, but rarely for sale. Instead, lucky little girls will receive the pristine dolls in their carefully crafted attire on Christmas morning. Harvey donates nearly all the dolls to the Community Christmas Toy Store, delivering several batches of dolls throughout the year to the organization that distributes toys to low-income families at Christmastime.

"Little girls grow up to be mothers, practice doesn't hurt, and they get that with the dolls," said Harvey. "It keeps me occupied in my spare time and if it makes someone happy, I'm happy."

She occasionally sells a doll, but only to get money to invest in shoes for the dolls she gives away. A few businesses in town also try to help Harvey with her purchases of fabric, snaps, buttons, and trim. Something Different Hair and Nail Salon, 333 Mill St., Thompson's Hardware, 30 South St., and Hamilton's of Ortonville, 465 Mill St., all have donation canisters for anyone wanting to contribute to Harvey's creations.

Anyone wishing to help the Community Christmas Toy Store can attend Sundaes on Sunday with Santa, from 1-3 p.m., Sunday, July 24 at Crossman Park in downtown Ortonville.

Bring a donation of one new, unwrapped toy per person and enjoy a super sundae featuring Cook's Farm Dairy ice cream.