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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Economy

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Solid Holiday Gifts from the Heart

December 17, 2010 - 5:21 PM | by: Faith Mangan

The kids at Project Self-Sufficiency in Fort Collins, Colorado were only told they would be getting a surprise.  Not long after they had gathered, a plain, white moving truck backed up to the building and the children were cloistered in a back conference room.  One by one, painted wood dollhouses and barns, each filled with bags of accessories, were carried into the building and set out for the recipients.  When all the gifts were in place, the kids were lead out to pick their own.  At least one little girl couldn’t wait for hers to be loaded into the car for the ride home — in what seemed like no time, she had her dollhouse all set up with the handmade, crocheted bedspread and other items.

Family owned Alpine Cabinet Company in nearby Timnath started making dollhouses to give away last year.  Bill Chinn says it started out as an idea to do something nice and keep people employed, “Last year we really had no work to do cabinet-wise. As a company we decided to keep our people through the holidays, we’d made the commitment to them so we needed a project for them to do.”  This year was busier:  they added barns for boys and juggled making cabinets at the same time.  In all, they cranked out fifty houses and fifty barns, up from 74 last year.  Besides going straight to needy kids, Alpine donates to charities that auction them off (and they hear it’s quite a money maker).  Their work has traveled as far as Florida and Minnesota.

For the barns, aptly named “Alpine Farms”, there are fences, a feeding trough, animals, a handmade John Deere tractor.  For the doll houses, Alpine’s team built the furniture.  Each one includes beds, blankets, dressers, a couch, chair with cushion, fireplace, fridge and of course… cabinets.  Suppliers donated materials and the team takes pride in the fact the final product, made of birch plywood, is durable.  Other people have donated money to buy the dolls and barnyard animals.  Chinn says, “I see us continuing to do it.  It seems to be taking on a life of its own.”

The solid, good deed and expert craftsmanship was met with extra appreciation from the adults in the room at Project Self Sufficiency, because as more than one person remarked, “everything is plastic these days”.

See pictures from Fox News videographer Lloyd Gottschalk.

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