Nine years of Dress the Dolls has provided countless smiles

Top ten include repeat winners 

by BETH ALTENA

Several of the creators of this year's top 10 Dress the Dolls are at United Bank in Rockford for a photo and to receive prizes.

The CARSTAR doll was one of this year’s public-voted Top Ten Dolls in the United Bank Dress the Dolls event, but owner Dan Williams said he wasn’t the talent that dressed the winning doll.

“It is really pretty neat. The daughter of one of our employees did it,” he said of the American Girl-style doll that won honors.

This year, CARSTAR of Rockford donated dressing for four of the 100 dolls that eventually end up in the home of children whose families are struggling this year.

United Bank of Rockford Branch Manager Nancy Martin, best-dressed doll creator Christine Green, North Kent Community Services Director Sandy Waite, and United Bank's Kathy Perez are pictured with Green's prize package and winning doll.

It is the ninth year for the popular event, where United Bank purchases 100 undressed dolls and allows friends, customers and local businesses to take home the dolls, dress them up and return them for donation to a family being helped by North Kent Community Services (NKCS).

“It is so fun to see what people come up with,” said United Bank of Rockford Director Nancy Martin.

Martin said the entire staff of her branch office is involved throughout the campaign, from untying the many, many twist ties that hold the boxed dolls in prior to distribution, to watching the dressed dolls return. During a voting period by the public the dolls fill the bank—along with their accessories.

“Sometimes they come with matching outfits the girls can wear,” said Sandy Waite, director of NKCS. She pointed out a doll included a necklace for her girl, which matched the attire of that doll. Another doll had purse for herself, and one for a child. This year’s winning doll is a repeat top choice, created by Linda Huff, who received a huge prize package for her efforts.

Waite said need for all kinds of donations, from toys to non-perishable food to clothing to cash is at an all time high—a figure that seems to be a moving target as the economy continues to challenge Michigan families. In the week before the traditional Christmas celebration, 800 families with 2,000 children will seek aid from the Center, receiving a Christmas dinner of either a turkey or chicken, depending on family size, as well as fixings, socks, hats, mittens, scarves, and a choice from Toys for Tots donations. The Dress the Doll toy is a special treat for any little girl.

“These families can’t go to Chicago to the American Doll store and buy one of those, but these look just like them,” said Waite. “And their clothing and accessories are amazing. You see the look on the moms’ faces as they pick them up and you just wish you could go home with them and see the look on the girls’ faces when they open them up. It’s a wonderful program and our community has embraced it.”

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