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QUILTERS' RAG DOLLS EASE PLIGHT OF PALESTINIAN CHILDREN

Rag dolls made recently by 25 senior citizen quilters have ended up in the arms of hospitalized Palestinian children.

The Dale Association's Wednesday Quilters produced about 30 dolls from patterns offered on a Wyoming woman's Web site.

Mary Page Jones started the "Rag Dolls 2 Love" program two years after becoming annoyed with reading about "collateral damage" in the Iraq war.

"In war, children suffer. They are the 'collateral damage' politicians refer to when they dismiss civilian deaths in armed conflicts," Page says on her Web site, www.ragdolls2love.org.

Marilyn Harris, the volunteer coordinator of the Dale Association's quilting group, said she involved the group in the rag doll program after reading two articles about it in an Episcopal Church newspaper.

"Every year we do a charity project," Harris said. In the past, those offerings had included "Linus quilts" for children with cancer, mostly in Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

The group worked on the dolls for about a month, Harris said.

Jones insists that her patterns be followed to the letter in order that the faces of the dolls have no identifiable ethnic characteristics.

"You can't make them any color that would look like a skin color," Harris said. Thus, the 30 dolls the Lockport group made were green, lavender, orange, purple and blue.

Other than the colors, the faces all have the exact same design and size.

Last month, the group received a thank-you letter informing it that its dolls, along with 200 others, had been sent to a hospital in Nablus, a large Palestinian city often rocked by unrest.

Harris said the Rag Dolls 2 Love program also has sent dolls to Israel in the past.

Other dolls have been sent to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Sudan, Belarus, Mexico, China, Honduras and South Africa. In all, more than 5,000 dolls have been made, according to Jones' Web site.

The Wednesday Quilters also work on a quilt to be raffled off for the benefit of the Lockport Senior Centre, which is operated by the Dale Association.

The group also produced a memorial quilt in memory of Margaret Houghtling, a recently deceased Dale member and volunteer.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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