Donated Dolls For Christmas

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For three decades, Betty Lou Stout has been working in her own version of Santa’s workshop. She repairs damaged dolls year-round to be sure needy youngsters don’t have to go without a special gift on Christmas morning. Kim Riemland met this energetic “elf” and has her story.

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(Locator: Tukwila, Washington)

If you visit Riverton Park United Methodist Church on a Thursday morning, stay out of the way …

Betty Lou Stout/Riverton Park United Methodist Church: “It’s a regular assembly line.”

…or be put to work.

Betty Lou Stout: “They tell me I head up this place up.”

Betty Lou Stout has a couple hundred dolls to get ready for Christmas.

Betty Lou Stout: “I just hate to think of any little child not having a toy under the Christmas tree. I can’t think of anything worse.”

She and her 1922 Singer have been hard at work – 11 months out of the year, for 35 years – leading a team that sews handmade clothes for discarded, donated dolls.

Often, they come in neglected and in need of TLC. They get their hair brushed, custom crocheted booties …

Betty Lou Stout: “This is one of the little dresses that will do on this doll.”

...and always a beautiful dress.

Betty Lou Stout: “What I told the girls when we first started was always remember to make the dress look like if it was the only toy their child was going to get.”

They work all year until just before Christmas …

(Organ music)

…when the fruits of their labor are brought to the sanctuary, where the congregation prays they’ll bring happiness to a homeless or underprivileged little girl.

The Rev. Karla Fredericksen/Riverton Park United Methodist: “Pick a doll, and send your special prayer upon that doll.”

Betty Lou Stout: “There’s 330 dolls. That represents a lot of work.”

Three-hundred and thirty dolls – that is a lot. But to the ladies who labored over them, each one is special, each is loved – just like the child who will receive it.

Betty Lou Stout: “We just hope and pray that they go to children that need them, and that they’ll know that they’re loved.”


The dolls were donated to social service agencies to be given as Christmas gifts for underprivileged children. The “doll dressers” will take a break over the holidays, and then start again in mid-January.

By the way, the husbands don’t just sit around – they help with odd jobs around the church, and they make wooden toys for boys.

For more information, or to donate a doll, supplies or money, call Riverton Park United Methodist Church at 206-246-1436. You may also mail donations to: Doll Dressers, c/o Riverton Park UMC, 3118 S. 140th St., Tukwila, WA 98168.