Sally’s Doll Project
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“Sally’s Doll Project,” Ensign, July 1996, 69

Sally’s Doll Project

Sally Magleby Buttle has always liked to sew. She was making clothes for her dolls at age 10, and by age 13 she was making her own clothes. Later in life, at a time when she needed a sewing-related service project, Sister Buttle came across a bin of old, dingy dolls in a store one day. She picked up a 75-cent doll and imagined how it might be fixed up to become adorable again.

All cleaned up and with new little shoes to match the blue chintz dress Sister Buttle made for her, the first doll turned out so well that soon Sister Buttle found two more orphaned dolls to work on. She became a regular patron of discount stores and thrift shops where used dolls could be found. “As I worked to bring life back to these dolls,” she recalls, “I loved seeing them take on a whole new personality as they were transformed from a dirty, unwanted throwaway to a clean, desirable little doll. I had a wonderful feeling knowing that many little needy girls would get dolls for Christmas that would bring many hours of joy.”

For Christmas 1993 Sister Buttle gave 38 newly cleaned and clothed dolls to the Orem Utah Institute of Religion for the students to give away during their “‘Tute for Tots” project, and she gave 62 more dolls to the Deseret Industries in Provo, Utah, where she had purchased most of them. She cleaned an additional 100 dolls for Deseret Industries without making clothes for them, placing each doll in a clear plastic bag so it would stay clean.

In preparation for Christmas 1994, Sally’s doll project escalated. She found a free source of dolls, and she ordered doll clothes by mail in addition to sewing them. As word spread, people began to help her. Her nephew’s wife gave her eight dolls, and one sister in her ward helped finish 50 dolls. “One day I opened my door and found six bare dolls all clean and needing to be finished,” Sister Buttle says. “Another sister brought me a bag full of doll socks she had made.” She taught a doll-recycling class in Relief Society, and Young Women classes helped clean and dress dolls. The total dolls prepared for Christmas that year approached 700!

“The beauty of childhood is reflected in the eyes of a child as she plays with her doll,” says Sister Buttle, who believes that dolls are a healthy aspect of a young girl’s development. She continues refurbishing dolls for Christmas, though on a more limited basis now. Her latest sewing service project involved making 22 white dresses for young girls to wear when they are sealed to their families in the soon-to-open Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple. Sister Buttle is a member of the Edgemont 12th Ward, Provo Utah Edgemont South Stake.