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Heroes and Dollhouses

There are some magical people out there who spend their free time constructing dollhouses for children who are sick or disadvantaged. This includes our friend Anne at Dollhouses for Kids Battling Cancer and a growing number of individuals around the world who have learned what a dollhouse can mean to a child when struggling with a disease or poverty in their lives.

Consider Earl Hurshman who as a retiree and a widower found he had too much time on his hands. According to Earl after fifty years of marriage to his wife
Bernadette he is still in the habit of asking her advice. He visits her grave on an almost daily basis taking her favorite flower a red rose and at 81 he found himself asking her what he could do with his time. He claims her advice was quick and responsive and told him to get off his bum and do something worthwhile. As a retired steel fabricator who had always been good with his hands and loved wood working, Earl came up with the idea to build dollhouses so that low income parents and grandparents could give them as presents to their special children. At this point he now uses almost his entire Social Security check for the dollhouse kits, paints and miniature items he needs to make others happy. Earl states that he needs very little for himself, “I live modestly and I don’t need anything, I don’t want anything.” He considers his dollhouse giving a mission and he doesn’t just hand them out without getting to know the individuals he is creating the dollhouses for. Earl finds families for his dollhouses through flyers that he puts up around town and through referrals from friends. According to Earl, once I find a family, “I meet with them first and find out a little bit about their situation.” And he loves the hugs. In 2013 Earl created twelve completed dollhouses to give away. He makes sure to include fire stations and barns for boys in addition to more traditional dollhouses. Earl thinks Bernadette would be proud of how he spends his time.

Another individual who is creating his own magic with dollhouses is Ken Christopherson who builds dollhouses and miniature barns from the start to give away to sick children in hospitals like the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas
 where he lives. His idea to make dollhouses for children who are gravely ill comes from seeing children in the hospital when he was visiting his wife Cecelia who is a survivor of breast cancer. To date Ken has created 62 dollhouses and barns cutting each piece of wood including every piece of furniture. The completed dollhouses stand approximately two feet tall and each one takes approximately 100 hours to complete. The barns which are a big hit with boys do not contain traditional farm animals but dinosaurs and other scary creatures. Both the dollhouses and barns are specifically made so they can fit easily on a patient’s tray table so they can be played with from their beds.

Recipients of the miniature masterpieces include Kenedi Groves age seven who is awaiting a heart transplant who states that, “I love my dollhouse, it’s special to me.”

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