It started in 1990 when Vickey Stamps learned of an 8-year-old girl suffering from cancer. She was losing her red hair, so Stamps, using her honed sewing skills, made the girl a red-headed cloth doll.
Fast-forward to 2007. By then Vickey has moved to Crescent City with her husband, retired from his work as a contractor in Southern California. Vickey recalls that little redhead from her past, and starts sewing again.
Now 72, Vickey has made 158 dolls for children in need — cancer patients, organ transplant recipients, kids from broken homes.
She started her own nonprofit, Dolls for Sick Kids, and gives her work to the American Cancer Society and other organizations, including the Harrington House, a Crescent City shelter for victims of domestic violence.
“I supply the labor and God supplies the need,” she says.
Sometimes she works with a certain child-recipient identified, and chooses the skin color accordingly. Other times not. Either way, she says, “there’s so much love in that one doll, it’s hard to describe.”
The girl dolls are 24 inches long, made out of muslin fabric and stuffing and sporting lace and trim. Each one takes about 12 hours. The 28-inch-long boys go a little faster — they sport a smiley face on one side and a sleeping face on the other.
Many of the dolls have no hair — like the children they are given to who are enduring chemotherapy.
Each comes equipped with a “born in Crescent “City” certificate featuring birth date and blanks where the child-recipient can fill in “baby’s name” and “parent’s name.” And each also comes with what Vickey calls the doll’s “story.” It reads in part:
“When you want to laugh, I will laugh with you. When you cry, please hold me near. The cloth in me will soak up your tears, and they will store themselves in the love I am surely stuffed with…
“If you are afraid in the day, or in the dark, please know I will do all my doll body allows me to do, to make you feel better. When you feel angry, I will only listen, and never be angry back.”
Vickey’s dolls have gone all over the world, and sometimes, donations of fabric, clothing and money, come back to her from all over the world. Everything goes back into her production and shipping of more dolls.
“It’s amazing what people do when they know there’s a need,” she says. Sometimes local people assist with the stuffing of the dolls, something that is difficult for Vickey because she suffers from emphysema.
She always needs more fabric and ribbons, and right now she has a special need for size-12-month boys’ outfits, which can be gently used.
Needless to say, Vickey stays busy. When she’s not being a dollmaker, she writes “fictional inspiration.”
She’s been married 40 years and calls her husband “my support system.” They have 10 children, 15 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.
Vickey gladly cooperates when other people want to make similar dolls. In fact, she’ll send them patterns and templates for clothing.
She has just one condition: They must promise to give one to a child in need.
About that Bowl-A-Rama
The Crescent City Rotary Club raised $1,500, of which half will go to three local charities — Relay For Life, the Del Norte Association for Cultural Awareness and Rural Human Services — with its recent fundraiser at Tsunami Lanes.
A total of 10 teams played, and the Rotary Team took the award for the “highest bowling” team, according to Katherine Taylor.
Those are the the results I’m willing to share. But I’ve been sworn to secrecy when it comes to team scores – especially those achieved, and I use that term loosely, by the Triplicate’s bowling contingent.