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Gifts that will warm body and soul

Dorothy Lee’s face lights up as she talks about one of the nursing home patients who will be getting a blanket this year.

The man is disabled and he gets cold a lot. She said the nursing home told her that he is always pulling the blanket off his bed and taking it with him.

Soon he won’t have to.

Juanita “Midge” Dunn has made 62 colorful lap throws for patients like this man. She is giving them to Lee to hand out for Christmas.

Dunn said it took a day or two to make each of the throws. Some have cats or dogs or fish while others are rainbow colored. Lee’s favorite was a blanket with angels.

Last year, Lee, known by some as “the Christmas Lady,” was able to help 947 residents in nine facilities through her Operation Christmas program. Those people included the elderly, developmentally disabled and veterans. Most of the people she helps have little or no contact with their families.

While taking a break from delivering to nursing homes last Christmas, she brought lunch and gifts for the seven people staying at the Shared Blessings homeless shelter. 

Lee said she couldn’t do all this alone. She counts on local businesses and individuals for help. One person doing a little bit helps.

She said when you combine a little bit of a lot of things it is a lot. She said a few pairs of socks and a few bottles of lotion can make a big difference for someone when they have nothing.

She said right now she needs body lotions, shampoo, deodorant, and women’s ankle socks. Donations can be sent to 8718 Mostiller Road, Bonne Terre, MO 63628 or for more information, call 573-358-3226.

Lee has been buying gifts for nursing home patients for 12 years. She hand-delivers each of the gifts and gets to know everyone she helps.

“I make up boxes according to the needs and physical condition of the person,” she said.

She doesn’t want to give someone something they won’t use. She doesn’t want anything to go to waste. Typically, she puts five items in a bag.

Lee said her husband, Don, is no longer able to help her deliver gifts so she will be starting deliveries two weeks before Christmas.

When the Associated Press picked up a Daily Journal article about Lee last year, the Bonne Terre Post Office started receiving letters addressed simply to “The Christmas Lady,” Bonne Terre, MO.

Lee was thrilled. She said she began receiving donations from Kansas and all over Missouri.

Teresa Ressel is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 179 or at tressel@dailyjournalonline.com.

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