Long Running Pinkie Puppets Program Spreads Cheer

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August 26, 2008

For nearly 50 years the Pinkie Puppet Program has helped sick children cope with the stress of their hospital visits. While the look of the puppets has changed over the years, the purpose of the program remains the same.

“It means so much not just to the children, but to the nurses and the departments at the university because you can imagine a child, how frightened of a needle or just going to the hospital,” volunteer, Katharine Hancock said.

Every Monday, a group of volunteers gather for a morning of for pattern cutting, sewing, and stuffing these little dolls, known as pinkie puppets.

“The puppets are hand made so it's really a sharing of time and talent and just the joy and positive feelings that go with that,” Charlottesville’s Senior Center, deputy director, Sarah Althoff said.

For more than four decades, dedication to bringing a smile to a child’s face has driven volunteers to return week after week, year after year.

Katharine Hancock has been volunteering her time to the puppet making assembly line for 30 years.

“We've moved from one spot to another just so we could keep going, but there's always been a dedicated group that felt the importance of it,” Hancock said.

Even when fingers get tired. “They don't just get tired they just don’t work so well,” Hancock said.
Their efforts to help children in the community never grow weary. “We know we're doing something that’s important and appreciated and it's not only appreciated by the receiver but by the giver.”

The ladies, also go out to lunch after their sewing sessions, and say it's become a great social event.

Each year the seniors make anywhere from 400 to 500 pinkie puppets for children at the UVA Medical Center.

The Pinkie Puppet Program operates in partnership with the UVA Hospital Auxiliary.

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