Shirley Kohnke with some of the 1

Shirley Kohnke with some of the 1

Dolls bring joy to disadvantaged children

So many times we get our cup of coffee, sit at the kitchen table and open this very newspaper and proceed to read stories.

So many times we get our cup of coffee, sit at the kitchen table and open this very newspaper and proceed to read stories of accomplishments made by our loved ones who made a difference.

The sad part is that it is usually after that loved one has passed away, but we would like to take this opportunity to do it while she is still with us.

Her name is Shirley Kohnke, our cherished mother. She was born in Rocky Mountain House to Elmer and Geneva Koivisto, June 4, 1940.

In 1958 she married a “gentle giant,” our dad, Ed Kohnke, in Williams Lake and had four children, Darlene, Cheryl, Marty and Ron.

They both worked full time and provided a loving family home for all of us.

We call this one of our mother’s many life accomplishments, one she took upon herself to try and make a difference.

A while back she came across an editorial on a small impoverished, poverty stricken village where toys were unheard of and children’s means of playing were left to their imagination until one day “one doll” found its way to this village and was adopted by the children.

The hundreds of little boys and girls were ecstatic and this one little doll would take turns and be shared amongst them all.

It was this story that reached our mother and she set out to make a difference.

Anyone who knows her, knows she is the most steadfast, ambitious, determined person and when she sets her mind to something she is driven until satisfactorily accomplished.

So this amazing little woman set her goal and started one knitted stitch at a time to make 1,800 dolls.

Some were boy dolls and no two were the same.

Each one provided a picture in her mind, of the smile it would put on one child’s face to know it was theirs and theirs alone.

No more sharing.they could name it, sleep with it, confide in it and probably become their best friends.

During her journey of making these soon to be cherished dolls, her grandchildren would often sit in awe watching her creation and one by one each would eventually ask the same question: “Nat could you please make one for me?”

Her reply to each one was always the same … “Of course I can but before I do I want you to first hear the story I heard that was the reason I started making them to begin with.”

As she repeated the story to them and ended it with: “For each doll I make and give to you means one small child goes without so the decision is up to you.”

After she had related the story that had initially touched her heart and inspired this venture, each and every one of them got very sad and declined their original request and in turn offered to forfeit some of their very own accumulated abundance of toys!

What a great learning experience for our children and grandchildren from a very kind and thoughtful grandma!

She did it in such a way that it will remain in their memories forever and when we hear them relate how proud they are of their gamma’s crusade  to help other kids, to their friends, it makes all our hearts smile.

The wisdom of a grandmother is a treasure in itself!

She made 1,800 knitted dolls one stitch at a time, one lesson at a time, made a difference in more ways than one.

Her journey making them had to come to an end as the continuous movements used in knitting caused hand and wrist pain that prevented her from making any more, but she surpassed her goal by the hundreds.

Her hands and time now are fulfilled by concentrating and devoting herself to our dad’s well being, her Gentle Giant, and best friend has developed dementia.

So to our mom we would like you to know how very much we all love you and how much you are appreciated.

Thank you for being who your are, your love and guidance shines in our lives and hearts every day.

We may not all believe in Heaven or God but one thing is for sure there are angels here on hearth.

We call them mothers.

Story by the Kohnke children Darlene Cole, Cheryl McEwen, Marty Kohnke, and Ron Kohnke.

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