Craft makers help people the world over

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/02/2021 (712 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

One story begets another. My December column about the generosity of fabulous knitter Pat Dodd prompted Linda Sidorow of Sage Creek to alert me about her cousin, Shelby Sturby. Shelby has crocheted over 1,900 Izzy dolls for children afflicted with poverty and hunger in war-torn countries and areas of natural disasters.

Izzy dolls? What are those?

It’s quite a story. Both the idea and pattern for these dolls were created by Carol Isfeld, the mother of Canadian Armed Forces soldier Master Cpl. Mark Isfeld.

Supplied photo Shelby Sturby has crocheted over 1,900 Izzy dolls for distribution to children all over the world.

During the first UN peacekeeping mission in Croatia, Mark noticed a child’s doll lying on a pile of rubble from a bombed house and thought of the need to reconnect a child with the joy that can come from a doll.

Hearing this, his mother Carol crocheted some small dolls for Mark to distribute.

On June 24, 1994, during a different overseas tour, Mark was killed in a mine detonation. After his death, Carol put her doll pattern on the internet so that others could make them. She stipulated that these patented dolls must not be sold.

Mark’s colleagues named the little Canadian icons Izzy dolls and continued to distribute them. Over 1.3 million children all over the world in places like Kenya, Haiti, Guatemala, and even Fort McMurray, Alta. have received this token of love.

Linda Sidorow is a volunteer with the Springfield, Man., team of Days for Girls (DfG) Canada at Oakbank United Church — a chapter of the national organization begun by Celeste Mergens in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2008. Finding that girls had to stay in their rooms and miss school or work for several days each month triggered a drive to sew washable, long-lasting sanitary pads and napkins. Today, DfG kits have reached 2.1 million women and girls in over 125 countries, for “every girl has dignity and worth.”

Linda and Shelby are to be congratulated for helping to bring dignity, health and opportunity to girls and women in distress. Springfield’s DfG organization and other benevolent groups such as World Vision and ICross also distribute Izzy dolls, the latter using them as stuffing in packing their medical supplies.

Making about two dolls per day, Shelby says she has spent about 2,000 hours crocheting Izzy dolls.  

My hope is that some good people reading this will have picked up the pattern, crocheted or knit some Izzy dolls, and passed them along through Shelby to bring cheer to some child — as Mark Isfeld himself did when he started this magnanimous activity.

“Adding even one doll will make a difference,” Shelby says.

The doll pattern for both crocheted and knitted dolls can be obtained from Shelby Sturby at 204-253-0953. Patterns can also be found in several places on the internet by simply searching for “Izzy dolls.”

Anne Yanchyshyn is a community correspondent for St. Vital. Email her at acy@mymts.net

Anne Yanchyshyn

Anne Yanchyshyn
St. Vital community correspondent

Anne Yanchyshyn is a community correspondent for St. Vital.

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