Looking after the dolls

       Some of Judy Gearhart's fondest childhood memories are playing dolls with her sister. Through her volunteer work in Goodwill Industries' thrice-annual doll sales, she can stay in touch with those times.
       It all started four years ago when Gearhart went shopping at one of the sales. These are no small affairs. The Westside-based non-profit agency rents an unused storefront for two days, offering 10,000 donated dolls or doll items.
       Afterward, Gearhart was contacted by Goodwill Volunteer Coordinator Donna Gardner, asking if she might want to help out with future sales.
       With her longtime interest in dolls, “I thought it would be fun to do,” Gearhart said.
       Gardner is happy Gearhart said yes. In a recent interview in the Goodwill doll room on West Colorado Avenue - surrounded by hundreds of dolls that must be readied for the upcoming show July 14-15 at - Gardner said Gearhart was one of the best volunteers she has.
       And, despite the hard work involved, the thrill has not gone away for Gearhart. If anything, it's grown. She keeps adding to her ethnic-doll collection that now numbers more than 100.
       A volunteer's job involves sorting the donated dolls by categories, cleaning them and pricing all but the potentially expensive dolls. Gearhart's fine with that and tries to glean as much as she can. “I have a lot to learn about the value of dolls,” Gearhart said. “If I have a question, I will ask. I just go wherever I'm needed.”
       One of the aspects that surprised her initially was how many dolls are donated locally. “I asked if they came from Denver or Pueblo, and I was told no, they all come from Colorado Springs.”
       When shoppers see the 10,000 or so on sale, they're really just seeing a portion of the donations. “Many we discard because they have missing pieces or they're very dirty - things where we know they wouldn't sell,” Gearhart said.
       She has one fun goal. Her sister, Barbara, now lives in Cincinnati, and they visit now and then. “We played many, many hours with dolls when we were children,” she said.What Gearhart would like to do is to synchronize one of Barbara's visits with a doll show, so she can see how big it is. “She has no idea,” Gearhart laughed.

Westside Pioneer article