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Elderly elves turn West Jordan health care facility into Santa's workshop

By Shara Park | Posted - Dec 18th, 2012 @ 10:35pm

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WEST JORDAN - This holiday season, elderly residents of a Utah health care facility are proving that anyone can spread the spirit of Christmas and volunteerism, no matter the age.

Copper Ridge Health Care in West Jordan has transformed into a doll hospital over the last few months, giving new life to old dolls that will go to needy children.

"I was thinking about my little grandkids and great grandkids, how they would feel not getting a doll for Christmas," said 80-year-old Joyce Duffin.

A baby doll is a special gift for many little girls, but these baby dolls have a very special story.

"I know what it was like when I was a kid not to have much. These are little kids who go without things."

"I can just picture a little person getting one of these for Christmas," said resident Jim Avery. "I mean, how can you not look at that and love it?"

Residents at Copper Ridge have spent the past few months preparing the dolls to go to new owners this Christmas. But not just any owners, young children with mental health disorders whose parents can't afford presents this year because of medical bills.

"I know what it was like when I was a kid not to have much," said resident June Tharp. "These are little kids who go without things."

The doll project started out as a way to get residents interested in activities they enjoy, like sewing. But the facility quickly turned into a full blown-doll hospital when community members donated dozens of raggedy old dolls.

"We had residents in our office with little basins full of water, scrubbing them down, combing out the hair, giving them hairstyles," said Ashley Westover with Copper Ridge. "Then they needed clothes."

Residents took to cutting, sewing and even crocheting beautiful little outfits for the dolls - all the while thinking of the children in need.

"They're going to beautiful little angels," said Jim Avery, one of the only men working on the project. He jokes about working with his fellow female residents.

"These ladies here, they are all delicious, as we used to say in my day," he said.

One of those "delicious" ladies is 92-year-old Beth Whitney. Though she didn't intend to give her doll her same haircut -- she is partially blind -- she confident someone will love it.

"It is a very loving doll," she said.

The dolls will be donated to the charity P.J.'s Forgotten Children. This year they have over 860 children in need of Christmas gifts.

While this make-shift doll hospital won't be able to fill all those orders, it will be sending dozens of dolls, toys and blankets to help out - proof that you can be Santa's helper at any age.

"Until our old hands wear out," said Duffin.


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