Toy factory in Baker Lake
Preschoolers getting home-made stuffed toys

by Jeff Colbourne
Northern News Services

BAKER LAKE (Sep 03/97) - Teddy bears, polar bears, dolls, racing cars, you name it, they make it.

Every Monday night since January, Baker Lake's finest sewers and knitters have been getting together to make stuffed toys.

They will be distributing them among some 220 pre-schoolers at the community's annual Christmas party.

"I've been thinking about this idea for some time," said Elsa Cheeseman, who's in charge of the Baker Lake Hospice.

She's the one who came up with the plan, but says the women who volunteer their time deserve all the credit for the toys because they are doing all the work.

Lena Tapati is one of several women in the group.

"I think it's a neat idea. I wish I had preschoolers so I could take one of them home," said Tapati.

The sewing group decided it would be cheaper to make toys than order them from the South to give to the young children for Christmas.

"We thought there were enough talented people in the community, so we decided to make the toys ourselves," she said.

It also gives the four women participating in the project something to do in their spare time, giving them a sense of accomplishment when they see something really nice for the work they put in.

So far the group has made about 130 toys.

To get enough money to buy the necessary sewing materials the women also held a flea market.

The only limitation the women have on the toys they make is their imaginations and the proper patterns. Fortunately, many of the patterns they've had for a long time.

If there's any question whether the children go for the toys, the answer is yes.

"Children who have come along with their mothers at night always get so excited," said Cheeseman.