WELLSBURG - After collecting hundreds of dolls over the years, Delvera Hukill of Wellsburg has decided to sell them, and she will give the money to a cause that's close to her heart, she said.
Hukill said she will give to the American Cancer Society Relay proceeds from a weekly doll sale to be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each Friday and Saturday, through Oct. 6, at the Colony Center at Sixth and Charles streets.
She said after accumulating nearly 1,000 dolls, it was time to part with many of them.
"I thought the best way would be to donate them to the American Cancer Society," Hukill said, adding she has lost two of her four children to cancer.
She said her daughter Deana had been active in the Brooke-Hancock Relay for Life, a major fundraiser for the cause, before her death to cancer at age 44 nearly 10 years ago.
And even as she was preparing for the sale, her son Donnie died on July 10, after battling the disease for about two years.
Hukill said over the years she sold dolls through collectors' magazines and considered opening her own doll shop, but that and selling them through the Internet seemed too time-consuming.
Why not use them to help a worthy cause, she reasoned.
So with the help of her husband Dale and granddaughter, Carrie Kazienko, she moved the many dolls into the former flower shop in the Colony Center, which is owned by her son, Danny.
A survey of the shop is like a review of toys, television and cartoon characters that have been popular over the years.
Dating from the 1930s to the 1990s, her collection includes porcelain collectible dolls, Barbies and other fashion dolls, Cabbage Patch dolls and some superhero action figures.
A talking Mork from Ork doll lays close to dolls inspired by Little Orphan Annie, Urkel of "Family Matters" and New Kids on the Block.
"There are dolls from all generations," Hukill said.
She will be conducting drawings for four unique dolls: a Brand New Baby doll made in Italy, a doll from the 1950s dressed in a nun's habit she was told once belonged to a Weirton convent, a doll dressed in a West Virginia University cheerleading outfit, a doll depicting, a doll of the Burger King mascot officials with the fast food chain have recently decided to drop, and a Spanish composition doll.
Composition dolls are made sawdust, glue, and other materials, such as cornstarch, resin and wood flour.
Chances are $1 each or six for $5. She plans to hold the drawings on Oct. 6, to coincide with the Wellsburg Applefest, which will be held on the street that weekend. It also will be the last day of the ongoing sale unless all of the other dolls are sold before then.
Hukill said the first doll she received as a child was a composition doll that a young family member playfully dunked in water, and it was destroyed.
Her family didn't have a lot of money, and that was her only doll growing up, which probably explains her fascination with dolls as an adult, she said.
"I've collected them for at least 30 years, maybe more," Hukill said.
Asked if she is keeping at least some of her collection, she said she has set aside a set of tiny dolls with their own small wardrobe and a set of Shirley Temple dolls inspired by the popular child star of the cinema of the 1930s.
"That was from my childhood. We all wanted to be Shirley Temple," Hukill said.
She invited area residents to visit her and perhaps discover a part of their childhoods and possibly make a purchase that will benefit efforts to prevent others from developing cancer.
Those with questions about the sale may contact Kazienko at (704) 622-9026 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Scott can be contacted at email@example.com.)