98-year-old woman on mission to sew dolls for kids: 'We have to keep making them'

Posted at 1:53 PM, May 28, 2021

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. — Isolated and alone, the pandemic pushed many seniors to the brink.

Eva Mowen of Virginia vowed to use her lockdown wisely.

“I just can’t sit there with nothing to do," the Colonial Heights woman said.

So, she sewed, a lot.

And while she is a sewing circle of one, the 98-year-old woman is never really alone at home. She surrounds herself with loved ones, hundreds of them.

“At least 400 to 500 from scratch,” Mowen said about the dolls she has created.

She is one of the driving force behind Dolls on a Mission.

“Oh, it brings me a lot of enjoyment and then I think of the child that is going to get it,” she said about the handmade doll. "If they never got a doll before they’d love it to pieces."

Missionaries carry the dolls to the four corners of the earth.

“It takes a lot of filler so that the dolls' heads aren’t wobbling,” Mowen said.

The dolls spread good cheer among impoverished children in need.

“In the seven years we’ve been making them, I bet we’ve made 10,000,” Mowen said.

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The group handcrafts dolls bound for Cambodia and Thailand to India and Iraq.

“The cards on the doll are written in the language where they’re going," she said.

With the pandemic easing, Mowen can finally meet her friends in person.

She and other like-minded volunteers gather at Grace Lutheran Church in Chester.

Each week, members of Dolls on a Mission stuff and sew.

Donated items like cotton and craft beads essential to their cause.

“We have to keep making them because we always have someone who wants some,” Mowen said.

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Many of the dolls stay stateside, bound for places like senior homes and women’s shelters.

“We’ve sent them to Appalachia. The flood victims down south and sent them to North Carolina,” Mowen said.

For this senior, her pandemic pastime was priceless.

Eva Mowen can also spin a good yarn about threading love across the world, one permanent smile at a time.

“I want to do this as long as I’m here, as long as the Lord lets me.”

If you would like to donate materials to Eva and her friends at Dolls on a Mission call Ellie Ray at 804-586-7160. You can also find Dolls on a Mission on Facebook.

This story was originally published by Greg McQuade at WTVR.