Bobbie Carr’s award-winner

Better hurry if you want a unique handmade Christmas gift made with love. Bobbie Carra’s rag dolls are going fast.

Carra is a resident at Good Samaritan Society-Comforcare, in Austin, MN. The 45-bed skilled nursing facility annually encourages residents to enter crafts into a county fair competition. One of Carra’s dolls won a blue ribbon this past summer.

The win sparked a way for her to honor her late husband, Robert, who was a Marine. She set a goal to make 40 rag dolls by Thanksgiving, using her own sewing machine, which she keeps in her room. 

She plans to sell the rag dolls and donate the proceeds to Toys for Tots, the longtime Marines-affiliated charity. Her daughter Kathleen brings her the assembly materials she needs.

Carra said she had only made teddy bears before but a book she bought on a whim fwas about making rag dolls and though she had never cracked it open before arriving at the facility, it has come in handy for this venture. Most of the dolls thus far have been sold to residents and staff

She made 30 by late September, much faster than she expected, so she expects to hit her goal easily. She can make one in a day but that would take all day, she explained, especially since she needs to take breaks because of arthritis in her hands. 

But it’s worth the time and energy and a little bit of pain, she said.

“It feels good to be doing something,” she explained..

Staff member Clara Palm said she and her colleagues try to foster an environment of creativity and hobbies. 

“When we have new residents, we ask them what their hobbies are, and a lot of people will say embroidery, or quilting or knitting, and we’ll try to connect them with other people or just even say, ‘Oh, there’s someone here with a sewing machine. You can bring a sewing machine here,’” said Palm. “You can still do the things you like to.”

“We want to encourage and foster. Every resident has their own life before being in the nursing home and their lives continue when they’re in a nursing home. People learn new skills and we want to embrace the things people love. We make accommodations, advocating for residents for what they want to do, and make sure they can still do the things they love and even learn new things.”

Each doll sells for $20, and the available inventory is on display in Carra’s room.

“She’s being selfless,” Palm said, “taking her own time and her own energy — lots of it — and dedicating these dolls to Toys For Tots.”