A traditional Mrs. Claus wins Goodfellows' doll contest
Among the contenders in the annual Goodfellows doll-dressing contest Monday was a Detroit Lions outfit.
Not surprisingly, it didn't win.
The champion, chosen by four qualified young girls and one overmatched me, was more simple than usual: a red-and-white Mrs. Santa Claus, crocheted by Aileen Maga of Westland and adorned with a winter cap and wire-framed glasses.
The actual winners, of course, are the 8,800 local girls aged 4 to 9 who will receive lovingly dressed dolls come December from the Old Newsboys' Goodfellow Fund. As for Maga, 89, she was as thrilled as the little girl who will open the box: "You're kidding. Oh, my gosh. I can't believe they picked that little doll."
The Goodfellows have been living up to their motto, "No Kiddie Without a Christmas," since 1914. They'll distribute some 30,000 holiday boxes to income-impaired children up to age 13 from Detroit, Ecorse, Hamtramck, Harper Woods, Highland Park and River Rouge.
The boxes contain clothes, games, toys and no shortage of love and memories.
Aleiya Hogan, 10, of Detroit was part of the esteemed judging panel, a fitting role since she has also been a recipient. "She gets a box every year," said her grandmother, Beverly Hogan, "and she gets all her dolls out and plays with them."
The panel, which also included Ava King, 6, of Canton and sisters Natalie Stanczak, 13, and Emily, 10, of Auburn Hills inspected more than 100 candidates screened by the Goodfellows and awarded second place to a Home Depot associate created by Terrie Hylton of Detroit.
In a friendly competition where accessories often rule, Hylton's doll wore green gardening clogs and a familiar orange apron made from a gift card holder, and carried a potted plant.
Clayella Webster took third place with a winged gold-toned angel. The top 10 dressers will be rewarded with plaques and praise at a luncheon come spring at the Detroit Yacht Club.
The dolls arrive from Santa's offshore workshop wearing only briefs, white socks and white Mary Janes. They're 13 inches tall, but they'll be growing: next year, 50 percent of the dolls will be American Girl-sized at 18 inches, and for 2021, they'll all be.
"We took a sample of the new doll to the last luncheon," said Goodfellows executive director Sari Klok-Schneider, "and half the people there took measuring tapes out of their purses."
The growth spurt was welcome, Klok-Schneider said, because it turns out there are more patterns available for the taller dolls.
"They're already so creative, ... They said they could really go to town with the new size," she said.
Klok-Schneider had been the Goodfellows' only full-time employee for 22 years until the organization added director of philanthropy Moira Mahoney a few weeks ago.
Low overhead and volunteer-driven, the Goodfellows spend about $1.2 million per year on the Christmas boxes, much of which they haven't raised yet. To donate, visit detroitgoodfellows.org or send a check to P.O. Box 44444, Detroit, MI 48224.
To become a doll dresser, write to the same address. To win a prize, remember to add some accessories — and if you're inclined to make a Lions outfit, you might wait till they add some offense.