CHAPEL HILL — Thanksgiving officially kicks off the holiday season and that means Santa and his elves are busy making Christmas gifts. Fortunately for dozens of foster children in Orange County, one of Santa's elves works nearby.
They call Gladys Holmes the "doll lady." Holmes started making dolls 18 years ago as a hobby. She says they each have a different face and a different personality.
When Holmes moved into the Carol Woods Retirement Community in Chapel Hill last year, she decided to share her talents with the 123 children in the custody of Orange County Social Services.
"I understand that lots of these children are taken with nothing," Holmes says, "They like to give them something to be their own." On Christmas morning, the kids will be given something very special of their own -- Holmes' dolls.
Social Work Supervisor Jenifer Montsinger explains. "She got in touch with us and said, 'I have this to offer, do you have children who could use them?'" Montsinger says, "We said, 'yes ma'am.'"
Holmes got busy gathering her supplies. Then she started devoting a little time each day to her dolls. And Holmes enlisted the help of her friends at Carol Woods.
We ask them to stuff first if they say they can't do anything, because anyone can stuff polyester into these toys," said Holmes.
Together, the retirees created 136 sewn and knitted dolls that county officials say will make the holidays just a little bit brighter for the kids.
"If we can give a child something special that is his to keep, it becomes a security blanket," Montsinger says. "It lets him know that people are thinking about him, people care about him and that he matters."
Holmes says she may start a new batch before this year's holiday season ends.