More than just a doll

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More than just a doll

By Andrea McBride
Staff Writer

THUMB AREA — It takes Christa Olsen about a day to knit one of her German elf dolls, but the impact they have lasts much longer.
Olsen, 86 of Harbor Beach, is a volunteer for Hometown Home Health & Hospice in Lapeer. She gives her knitted dolls to Elaine Ewald, a hospice nurse for the company. Ewald then gifts them to each of her new hospice patients.

Ewald said her patients often name their new doll and cherish it.
“I think the older patients really like them because they’re handmade and that’s a big connection for them,” Ewald said.
In return for Olsen’s generosity, Ewald arranged a surprise.
Olsen thought she was just being taken to lunch, but Ewald and some other individuals surprised her with a Certificate of Appreciation and a bouquet of flowers.

“She’s always making things,” Ewald said. “She’s always willing to give, so it was just really nice to have a day be her day.”
To truly see the impact her dolls have made, Ewald then took Olsen to Sebewaing and Heritage Hill Assisted Living in Caro to meet patients who have received them.

Ewald said Olsen was humble through the whole experience and it was evident she doesn’t mind working for hours to carefully knit each one-of-a-kind doll.

Olsen has made more than 30 dolls, and the way each one can make life a little less serious for her patients is something Ewald is thankful for.

“When I meet a hospice patient for the first time, they’re often scared or they’re anticipating that going on hospice is going to be a real negative thing.”

When I can go in and give them something on the first visit, and we can laugh and joke around and look at the doll and name it and make it be a little more light hearted, they just … feel less afraid, and it’s just a really great introduction.”

Andrea McBride