Handmade dolls become her fund-raising tribute to her late husband

Bobbie Carr award winner

Better hurry if you want a one-of-a-kind, handmade Christmas present made with love. Bobbie Carra’s rag dolls go fast.

Carra is a resident of the Good Samaritan Society-Comforcare in Austin, MN. The qualified care facility with 45 beds encourages residents every year to take part in a fair competition with handicrafts. One of Carra’s dolls won a blue ribbon last summer.

The victory gave her an opportunity to honor her late husband, Robert, who was a Marine. She has set a goal of making 40 rag dolls by Thanksgiving, using her own sewing machine, which she keeps in her room.

She plans to sell the rag dolls and donate the proceeds to Toys for Tots, the Marines’ longstanding charity. Her daughter Kathleen brings her the necessary mounting material.

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Carra said she had only made teddy bears before, but a book she bought on a whim was about making rag dolls, and although she never opened it before arriving at the facility, it lent itself to that endeavor proven useful. Most of the dolls have so far been sold to residents and staff

She made it to 30 at the end of September, much faster than expected, so she expects to easily reach her goal. She can do one in a day, but that would take all day, she explained, especially since she has to take breaks with arthritis in her hands.

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But it’s worth the time and energy and a bit of pain, she said.

“It feels good to do something,” she explained.

Employee Clara Palm said she and her colleagues try to encourage an environment of creativity and hobbies.

“When we have new residents, we ask them what their hobbies are, and a lot of people say embroidery, quilting, or knitting, and we try to put them in touch with other people or just say, ‘Oh, there’s someone here with me a sewing machine. You can bring a sewing machine over here,'” Palm said. “You can still do the things you enjoy.”

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“We want to encourage and support. Each resident has their own life before entering the nursing home, and their life goes on when they are in a nursing home. People learn new skills and we want to embrace the things people love. We take care of accommodations, championing what residents want to do and making sure they can still do the things they love and even learn new things.”

Each doll costs $20 and available inventory is on display in Carra’s room.

“She’s selfless,” Palm said, “taking her own time and energy — lots of it — and dedicating these dolls to Toys For Tots.”

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