Women bring joy to hospitalized kids with stuffed animals

The Toymakers, a group from the Women’s Rountable Club of Wyoming-Camden meets monthly at Wyoming United Methodist Church to work on stuffed animals for children at Bayhealth Kent General. Since the groups inception in 1975, 14,356 toys have been donated. Pictured at the September 2015 meeting are from left to right, Lillian Swain, Lucy Lange, Diana Tarbinton, Jean Prettyman, BJ van Kavelaar and Edith Jarman. (Delaware State News/Ashton Brown)

The Toymakers, a group from the Women’s Rountable Club of Wyoming-Camden meets monthly at Wyoming United Methodist Church to work on stuffed animals for children at Bayhealth Kent General. Since the groups inception in 1975, 14,356 toys have been donated. Pictured at the September 2015 meeting are from left to right, Lillian Swain, Lucy Lange, Diana Tarbinton, Jean Prettyman, BJ van Kavelaar and Edith Jarman. (Delaware State News/Ashton Brown)

DOVER — Since Feb. 26, 1975, a group from the Women’s Round Table Club of Wyoming-Camden, called the Toymakers, has met 10 times a year to make stuffed animals for kids at Bayhealth Kent General Hospital.

Stuffed animals are offered to kids of every age and circumstance, from newborns to big kids getting blood tests.

“Knowing that these toys are going to sick kids or kids that are scared in the hospital is a great feeling,” said Judy Remalia of Magnolia, a member of the Toymakers for a year.

The Toymakers sew animals in the shapes of cats, dogs, dinosaurs, elephants, horses and more, using different fabric for every season. At the September meeting, they worked on animals mostly made from Halloween print fabrics.

The club keeps a detailed log of all its meetings and how many animals were donated after each. Over the past 40 years, 14,356 stuffed animals have been completed and distributed to kids at Bayhealth.

Some of the work is done at home, like cutting the patterns and embroidering faces, but at the meetings, everyone has a specific role.

“A few of the women here had never even sewn before joining, so they start with the basics like cutting patterns, stuffing the animals or stitching them closed after they’ve been stuffed,” said Edith Jarman, a participant since the 1970s.

Ms. Remalia is one of the inexperienced sewers and spends most her time working on the final stitches.

“A friend invited me to join, because this kind of thing is right up my alley because I love crafts, but I had never done much sewing before,” she said.

Others have extensive sewing experience, like Janet Furr of Dover, who used to teach Home Ec at Caesar Rodney.

“I used to do a lot of sewing and crafts but I mainly just work on small projects now, so this is a great hobby to have,” she said. “It was actually a former student of mine who told me about the group.”

But making the stuffed animals is more than a hobby for the women in the club. It’s a social activity too. About 15 women come to each month’s meeting, most of them retirees.

“I may have retired from my job, but not from life,” Ms. Remalia said.

She is one of the youngest members of the Toymakers; the majority are in their 80s and the oldest member is 89.

Ms. Jarman said the ladies usually go out to lunch after sewing. They use their leftover fabric scraps to work together on other projects like quilts, which they make for foster children and kids in developing nations.

The Round Table also volunteers at homeless shelters and hosts fundraisers for scholarships.

For more information about the Round Table or the Toymakers, call Edith Jarman at 492-3545.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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