It's the size of the heart that matters
link Patti Dobson
Elves come in all shapes and sizes. In reality, it’s not the size of the elf but the size of the heart that matters.
Not everyone is lucky enough to have elves among them, but Westminster Presbyterian Church can count itself among the more fortunate. For in our midst, we have the king and queen of elves ... Dwight and Lona Waldo (Mr. and Mrs. Precious).
When most people hit their retirement years, they ... well ... retire. Not so the Waldos.
Their ministry began simply enough. A friend’s mother, who lived in an Alzheimer’s unit in Amarillo, carried a doll wrapped in a baby blanket everywhere she went. When she no longer recognized her loved ones and lost the ability to communicate with them, she chatted and sang to her “baby.” That bittersweet moment touched Dwight and Lona, and launched them heart-first into their Teddy Bear Ministry.
The couple, known for their penchant for garage sales, began keeping an eye out for “babies” to donate to the Amarillo center. Dwight and Lona rescued tossed-away dolls and stuffed animals from garage sales; they lovingly cleaned and repaired them, breathing new life into the cast-aside treasures.
In 1999, they approached the Retirement Ranch in Clovis explaining their mission to give everyone “something to hold onto, something to love.” They delivered four of their restored babies to the director, who a month later asked for as many as they could donate.
They branched out to other centers in the area, bringing not only a treasure trove of stuffed animals with them, but an extraordinary amount of love.
Each year, Dwight and Lona and their Merry Band of Carolers regaled residents of the Clovis Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, St. Anthony’s Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, the Retirement Ranch, and the Senior Citizen Resident Center, and the Farwell Convalescent Center. Approximately 20 members of Westminster Presbyterian Church and eight members of First Presbyterian Church (both of Clovis) handed out the bears and sang to the residents.
Other centers that were “elfed” by the Waldos and their specially appointed helpers include Quail Ridge in Tucumcari, Heartland in Portales, Littlefield Nursing and Rehabilitation, the Harmonee House in Amherst, and Park View in Muleshoe.
Wrapping up the Christmas season this year, the Waldos band of elves handed out more than 700 stuffed animals at the annual Christmas party for the Lighthouse Mission in Clovis.
Roughly counting, since they began their ministry in 1999, the Waldos have distributed probably close to 10,000 babies to various centers, police stations and homebound friends.
That’s a lot of stuffed animals ... but more importantly, that’s a lot of love.
Patti Dobson writes about faith for the Portales News-Tribune. Contact her at: