GLADSTONE - Twenty-five little girls will have a big smile on their faces on Christmas morning when they check under their family Christmas tree and see a bright pink doll cradle complete with a smiling dolly. Perhaps 80-year-old Ken Lessard of Gladstone will be found smiling at the thought of these happy scenes.
Lessard has been working since July cutting, piecing, sanding and finally painting the cradles that will be distributed along with the Christmas food and toy baskets by the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Gladstone.
Using his own pine wood and paint for the construction, Lessard said he obtained the pattern for the cradles from an old broken one that belonged to his aunt.
Dorothy McKnight | Daily Press
Retiree Ken Lessard, right, and St. Vincent de Paul volunteer, Larry St. Martin, both of Gladstone hold two of the 25 doll cradles that were built by Lessard. The cradles, filled with refurbished baby dolls, will be distributed along with food and toy baskets for needy families in the local area.
After the cradles were completed, Lessard's wife, Mary, as well as their daughter, Sue, made mattresses for them.
"Actually there were others involved," said Lessard. "Whoever came over looking for something to do, I told them, 'I'll give you something to do.' Lucy Jolly also helped a lot."
Donated dolls were cleaned and dressed in brand new clothing by other St. Vincent de Paul volunteers.
Lessard made five cradles last year that he donated to St. Vincent de Paul.
"That just wasn't enough," said Larry St. Martin, St. Vincent de Paul volunteer. "We're happy that he agreed to make more this year."
After Lessard retired after spending 30 years as an employee of the Gladstone Super Valu, he said he began looking for a pastime to occupy himself.
"After I retired, I went right into my shop," he said. "I was coping with some health issues but by July I began felling better and started on these. You gotta do something to keep yourself busy." Gesturing to the double row of cradles, he added, "This is something that came out of it. I'd work on them a little bit, but when I got tired I went back into the house and came back to them later."
Lessard said he regrets not making something for little boys who will benefit from the donated Christmas baskets. "The little boys have gotten left out but maybe I'll think of something for them," he said.
St. Martin praised Lessard for his generosity, saying, "There are very few people who are willing to do something like this."
Lessard has already set a goal to make 80 cradles for St. Vincent de Paul next year.