Moving Picture: Naperville doll hospital renews toys
Angel Whitt has such a love of dolls that she opened a shop dedicated to helping other people keep their dolls in repair for years to come.
Whitt and her staff of "doctors" and other specialists at her Angelic Doll Hospital in Naperville repair and bring back to life dolls and stuffed animals of all kinds.
Repairs can be anything from a simple cleaning to fixing damaged parts, or even replacing missing limbs. Her staff can replace hair, fur, eyes and ears from her supply of donor parts, and Whitt boasts "they have not lost a patient yet."
"I have always loved dolls and toys, I've always had a lot of them," Whitt says, "So for me to have this business for over 30 years has been such a joy."
Whitt receives patients of all kinds from all over the United States and Canada, including expensive antique dolls and tiny stuffed animals from owners who will go to great lengths to have them repaired.
When a patient arrives at the hospital they are assessed, given an identifying hospital wrist band, and a diagnoses is given to the "mommy or daddy" for their approval to perform the necessary procedures.
Whitt's philosophy is less is best, and says she doesn't want the doll to look new or like a different doll. The goal is for it to look unrepaired and looking its age with all original parts, if possible.
Whitt tells a story of a 40-year-old man who brought in the "Raggedy Andy" he had as a boy, who needed a new hat to cover his balding head from decades of aging.
When Whitt started surgery on the doll, she found a score of items hidden years earlier by the owner, such as a car, rock and a jack stuffed inside the doll.
Whitt contends that many similar stories provide proof that feelings for some of the dolls and stuffed animals linger for years with owners who treasured them as children.
"I love when (clients) walk in the door and they see their toy," Whitt says, "A lot of people cry tears of joy. It is very emotional, some people wouldn't think about that."
The hospital offers free estimates and "stat" emergency surgery services for those who can't wait to be reunited with their beloved doll. Some of the more difficult repairs can mean a several-month stay.
The hospital accepts donations of unwanted dolls and stuffed animals that are either repaired or used as donors to help give new life to other toys. The hospital also has a nursery where you can adopt a baby doll and shop for clothing to match your doll.
Information about the Angelic Doll Hospital in Naperville can be found at angelicdollhospital.com.
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