MOUNTAIN GREEN -- It's Christmastime, and that means Betseylee Browning has a low inventory of dolls. This season, she only has 300 hanging around the house, because they still need pajamas or cleaning or something else to complete the package with which she sends them away.
To those who know her best, Browning is "The Doll Lady."
That's because, for 16 years, she has been on a mission to provide dolls to those in need at Christmastime. She's hoping to extend that mission out long enough to make it at least an even 20 years.
Browning buys used dolls and supplies at local thrift stores and fixes up the toys.
The effort started when she found 15 Cabbage Patch doll heads for sale for 25 cents each at a thrift store.
"I thought, 'I don't need 15 dolls,' " she said, referring to that time, when she went about making bodies for the dolls.
Before she knew it, she had an obsession with providing dolls for those without toys. She carries out her mission by sewing, recycling and involving others from the community.
"I have a doll party, usually in October," she said. "Everyone in the community comes. They help me wash and dress them. They style their hair and put ribbons in (the dolls' hair)."
Alongside Browning in the ongoing project is neighbor Kristy Nelson, who helps sew, crochet and arrange accessories for the dolls.
"It's a wonderful project," Nelson said. "I love dolls. I love children. I just enjoy doing it. I feel like I am doing good things."
Every doll has a blanket, a diaper bag, a hat, pajamas, clothes, diapers and a stuffed animal.
"In the store," Browning said, "you can't buy a doll that has all those things. These are at least a $30 value."
Browning said she spends an hour or two a day, all year long, to carry out the project.
"I am a hoarder when it comes to dolls," she said. "Almost every night, I will be crocheting something for the dolls."
Mountain Green resident Maren Malan said she doesn't recall ever seeing Browning at a sporting or community event when she wasn't crocheting a doll blanket.
And the gifts and efforts to fix up Browning's dolls are not exclusive to girls and women.
This year, some boys in Browning's neighborhood created 30 wooden doll cradles, fashioned after one that the grandfather of one of the boys made many years ago.
Boys also have helped wash and dress the dolls.
And boys have been the recipients of the dolls almost as often as girls have.
"I like this project, because it's about teaching kids to be nurturers," Browning said. "Boys will be fathers and will have to nurture, too."
Browning said when one of her sons lost a cousin, who was abducted and killed, a doll played an important role in helping him heal.
Over the years, Browning has refurbished thousands of dolls for those in need.
Her charities have included the Salvation Army, Deseret Industries Bishops Night, a cancer center, the Eccles Park Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a number of one-time efforts.
"A grandma didn't have presents for her grandchildren," Browning said. "She felt very, very bad, so we gave her eight dolls."
When she first approached the Salvation Army with her creations, officials turned her down, saying they only accept new items for their Sub for Santa program, she said.
"I asked them to go to the car and see," she said. "When they did, they said, 'We can definitely use these.' "
When asked how people can contribute to the project for next year, Browning said she could use more stuffed animals, a lot of wide-necked doll pajamas that fit on Cabbage Patch dolls, fabric, yarn and diaper bags, like the ones the hospitals send home with new mothers.
To contact Browning, call 801-876-2524.
But what she would really like to say to people is to find a way to do something similar to what she has done.
"I'd like to help them think that they can use the things they have to help others," she said.
"If they don't have a lot of cash around, they can refurbish something. I mostly would like to encourage others to come up with a project they can manufacture themselves to help others."
Regardless of any influence she has, Browning said, her efforts have their own personal rewards.
"You generally will not receive thanks," she said. "The organization you give to won't send you a thank-you note. The feeling you've done something to help others is your reward."
She said she has never actually seen anyone open a Christmas present to find one of her refurbished dolls inside. The closest thing to that is a picture she received of an elderly woman in a nursing home as she was given one of her dolls.
But Browning has had the opportunity to deliver some of her dolls to homes of those in need.
"Sometimes, they have gone to homes where there is no Christmas dinner, there is nothing," she said.
"It's my way of being a helper for Christ. I do it because I want to serve others."