Local agency collects dolls

SHELBURNE - Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N) AmeriCorps members at the Champlain Valley Agency on Aging gathered 250 dolls and 39 participants together in Shelburne to celebrate the completion of the Selamta Comfort Doll Project.

Since early December, 75 seniors have been sewing and knitting one-of-a-kind dolls to send to orphaned children living in the Selamta Children's Home in Ethiopia. Many of these children have lost their parents to the AIDS epidemic and have never had anything they could call their own.

These unique handmade dolls will bring comfort to the children as they transition into their new environment and let them know that someone in Vermont thinks they are special and made a doll just for them.

The Human Capital Foundation designed Selamta Children's Home to be a place where children could regain a sense of peace after the loss of their parents. In Ethiopian Amharic, "Selamta" means "be at peace." The Selamta Children's Home Project began in 2005 and now more than 75 children are receiving care there.

On Jan. 19, N2N AmeriCorps hosted a luncheon event to celebrate the success of the Selamta Comfort Doll Project. When all the people and dolls arrived, there was a total of 250 dolls - with the promise of more by the end of the week. Participants admired all the dolls before settling down to listen to Annemarie Linnehan from the Human Capital Foundation.

Linnehan told attendees about the Children's Home and thanked them for all the caring that they put into each doll. She assured them that each doll would be welcomed and appreciated by one of the children. The dolls will be carried in suitcases by volunteers traveling to Ethiopia to volunteer at the Children's Home. Linnehan told attendees that the first batch of dolls would be on their way Jan. 24.

Attendees enjoyed a buffet lunch compliments of Mac's Market, Shaw's in Colchester, Klinger's Bread Company, and Healthy Living, with home-baked desserts provided by N2N AmeriCorps. Participants watched a documentary called "Into Abyssinia" by Adam Maurer and O'Keefe Foster that describes the beginning of the Selamta Children's Home.

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