Uniontown nurse collects baby dolls and teddy bears for patients with dementia

Staff steps in to help those diagnosed with dementia.


Facebook: Marybelle Baby Doll Project page

A donation box for the Marybelle Baby Doll Project

Emily Wilson, Contributor

Donations of teddy bear stuffed animals and baby dolls are being collected for patients with dementia.

Amanda Degusipe of Uniontown is a nurse at Gateway hospice and created the Marybelle Baby Doll Project in 2019 by creating flyers and informing different businesses and residents around Uniontown about her project and what it serves to do.

I titled the project Marybelle after my grandmother,” DeGusipe said. “She was faced with dementia during her final years. She struggled with her health among other things but always found comfort in coddling a baby. She inspired me years later to develop this project and take donations for baby dolls in order to help bring the same comfort to others suffering with Dementia.”

The Marybelle Project began during the pandemic in 2019. Since then the project has raised over 500 baby dolls and have placed drop boxes for doll donations around Western Pennsylvania.

Donations this month as well as next month will be distributed to dementia patients in different nursing facilities before Christmas.  

Emily Schaible, a Junior at Cal U majoring in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology is familiar with the project and has donated dolls in the past.

I first heard of the Marybelle Baby Doll Project when I was just scrolling on facebook,” Schaible said. “I have donated a few baby dolls and so has my family. I’ve been seeing flyers recently around Uniontown about the donations for Christmas and we plan to donate some dolls and teddy bears for that too.”

Donations of baby dolls are accepted all year around. This year Amanda Degusipe is also accepting donations of teddy bears now through December 20th.

“Something I’ve seen in patients with Alzheimer’s or Dementia, along with my own grandmother is that holding a baby doll can help decrease stress and agitation that we often see in these patients,” DeGusipe said. “I refer to this as doll therapy. Holding these baby dolls or stuffed animals is a way to put responsibility and structure back into their lives. This gives them something to care for.”

Local facilities, law offices, funeral homes, physicians offices, and grocery stores are also collecting donations to contribute to the project.

Donations will be taken to local senior centers, patients in home care centers, and Gateway Hospice residents.

I think it’s really interesting and sweet seeing pictures of the patients with Dementia holding their dolls,” Schaible said. “You can see how happy the dolls make them when they’re holding them. It’s almost like they think they’re real babies. It’s really touching to see and it makes me happy to be apart of it.”

Donations can be shipped or droppped off at the Gateway Hospice office in Pittsbugh 9380 McKnight Rd. STE 201, Pittsburgh PA. Amanda DeGusipe can be contacted by telephone at +1 (412) 737-2436 with any questions regarding donations.