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Portales 4-year-old establishes 'reloveables' stuffed animal project


November 4, 2018

Courtesy photo

Keslynn Thompson with the dozens of dolls and stuffed animals she donated to Park View Nursing Care Center in Muleshoe.

One Portales resident is showing there's no age restrictions on giving back.

With the help of family friend Kerri Smith and her mother Tiffany Kendrick, 4-year-old Keslynn Thompson this year established a new project called "Keslynn's Reloveables."

It provides baby dolls and stuffed animals to comfort residents at Park View Nursing Care Center in Muleshoe and Heartland Continuing Care Center in Portales.

Smith said the project originated from a March trip to visit her mother living at Park View, when one resident began acting distressed and Keslynn intervened.

"This lady was kind of having a bad day. She was backing up in her wheelchair and screaming 'poppa,' so Keslynn walked up and handed her her doll ... The lady just thought it was real," Smith said. "She was holding it and patting it and carrying on. She held it for about 30 minutes and that's when we got the idea that this would be cool to get some dolls and some stuffed animals like dogs for the men. It was just comforting to them."

So Keslynn cleaned out her bedroom and brought about 25 stuffed animals and dolls to Park View, which now loans them out to residents like a library system.

Smith said some additional donations of dolls and money from Facebook friends brought the number up to over 30 dolls at Park View and about 35 at Heartland, where the project expanded in June.

Ruth Kitchens, the receptionist at Park View, said the project is the first of its kind at the nursing home and the residents have really taken to dolls and stuffed animals.

"It seems like when you put the babies or something in their arms, it kind of soothes them," Kitchens said. "She's such a sweet little girl to do something like that for the older people."

Beverly Webb, the activity director at Heartland, said the project has not really caught on with the male residents yet, but has been beneficial for the female residents with health conditions that cause memory loss.

"A lot of our lady residents have reverted back to being a mother and having the babies to carry around and feed and talk to has just put new life into them. They're just perking right up and really enjoy being a mother again," Webb said.

"You can imagine you get up in the morning and you're still living back when you were 30 years old but you don't have the normal day-to-day routine that you were doing at 30 ... so they're kind of lost. So these babies just fill in that void and they've got a reason to get up in the morning and take care of that baby."

Smith said the project has had a positive impact on Keslynn as well, teaching the soon-to-be 5-year-old the value of sacrifice and giving back.

"She loves it. What is great for her is when we go to the nursing homes, those people love her," Smith said. "She's not scared of them ... she just brightens up their day. I'm telling you, it is amazing what a little kid could do for people at a nursing home."

Smith said the next possible expansions they are considering include the Farwell Care and Rehabilitation Center and BeeHive Homes of Portales, but that will be dependent on receiving additional donations.


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