Local group goes viral for providing purpose with baby dolls

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WDRB) -- A local group of women has a unique mission, using baby dolls to provide purpose to the elderly with Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia. Now, a viral Facebook post is helping.

One by one, each baby is slowly carried into a wagon. "So, now I guess we'll get puppies and we definitely have enough puppies for all the men," Sandy Cambron said.

Nestled in bandanas and blankets, stuffed animals and baby dollars are pulled into a New Albany nursing home. It's the latest of dozens of deliveries.

"I'm going to let you hold her and I'm going to let you keep her," Cambron said.

What makes for children's earliest memories are now being used to help many in their remaining years. "I love her smile. I know that she's not real but I know she is. I don't know what to say," Norma Crump said. 

Crump is a resident. She was a nurse and an innate caregiver. "You're so precious. I'd love to go buy you some clothes."

The group of three goes around the room. "You can keep him in your room. He's yours every day. You jut have to pick a name for him and he'll be your buddy," Cambron said.

Te ladies are interacted with each and every resident with Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia at Autumn Woods. 

Cambron's mother-in-law had Alzheimer's Disease. "I thought maybe she would relate to a baby doll. So, I took a baby doll and she took the baby doll to her and she took to it immediately. She tried to feed the baby. She thought it was real," Cambron said. "The baby was a part of her and then when she passed away she buried the baby with her."

After Pearl passed away, Cambron and her husband decided to deliver baby dolls to local nursing homes around the area in 2006. Their mission is now known as Pearl's Memory Babies.

"I put real baby clothes, real baby blanket, a real baby hat and it changes them completely. They're each individual when you complete them and I think that's the uniqueness of it," Cambron said.

Shannon Blair is a co-worker. Her mother has Alzheimer's Disease. "I didn't know why she [Cambron] wanted to give mom a baby doll. I thought she was being nice. I had no idea. She really didn't go into a lot of detail, but once I gave it to her and i saw the reaction. I went back to Sandy the next day and I said 'I get it. I get why you do this,'" Blair said.

Blair believed in Cambron's efforts so much, she now helps. They gave more baby dolls to others in her mother's unit.

Blair posted pictures on Valentine's Day. "About 8:30 the next morning, my sister texted me and said 'hey, have you been on Facebook?' and I said, 'no' and she said, 'you might want to go on Facebook,'" Blair said.

She had 75,000 views and shares in 24 hours, getting the attention of People.com, Ellen.com and others.

"Goosebumps everywhere. To see our residents and to see people like Sandy in the community doing things like this because sometimes residents are forgotten about," says Brian Brooks, Legacy Lane Coordinator for Autumn Woods. 

The viral post boosted the group's GoFundMe account to help the ladies provide more baby dolls.

"We all need a purpose and caring for these babies I think has created a new purpose for some of our residents. So, it's exciting," Brooks said.

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