Woman helping to make children smile, one toy at a time | NevadaAppeal.com

Woman helping to make children smile, one toy at a time

Nevada Appeal Staff Reports

Cheryl Knowles walks with a cane on good days. On others she uses a wheelchair. But most days you can find her making something to put a smile on someone’s face.

Cheryl has been making all sorts of stuffed toys for four years expressly to give them away.

Last Christmas she distributed almost 110 of her creations to hospital pediatric wards in Carson City and Reno.

She went to Carson-Tahoe Hospital, Washoe Medical Center, St. Mary’s and the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Reno.

“This is the second year I’ve made it to all the hospitals,” she said. “I make them all year long. I’ve already started on next year’s.”

She said Wal-Mart donated candy canes to go with the dolls that she distributed. She hopes to make it into the maternity wards next year.

Not bad for a disabled U.S. Army veteran whose sprained ankle turned into Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome forcing a medical discharge in 1986.

Cheryl was 21 years old, after a drunk driver killed her husband. A widow with two children, she joined the Army at 24 and was stationed in Alaska when her accident happened.

The disease occurs in cases of trauma to the limbs and according to rsdhope.com, is described as a constant burning pain.

After leaving the Army, Cheryl attended University of Nevada, Reno, and received her teaching degree.

She lived in Gardnerville before moving to Carson City three years ago.

“When I had to quit working, I’d always done crafts and so I started making the babies,” she said of her dolls.

“This year I’m working on teddy bears, bunnies and puppies,” she said. “I’ve already started on next year’s babies. Right now I’m making material for bears. They’re all going to be patchwork bears.”

Cheryl calls it Babies for Babies and her two grandchildren have been helping her with the work. Her daughter, April Harris, lives just a short distance away.

“They are learning right from the beginning that Christmas is about taking care of people,” she said. “I love seeing children smile.”

Cheryl pays for the materials out of her own pocket, but it gets expensive.

“My husband pays the bills with a smile,” she said of husband Roger. “He has been my best friend for 20 years and I’ve been married to him for 15.”

Anyone wishing to donate fabric to Cheryl’s cause may send it to her at 39 Century Circle, Carson City, NV, 89706.

She and April wore dresses Cheryl designed based on those in the movie “White Christmas.”

April is 27 and her youngest daughter is 23. She and Roger have six children between them.

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The picture makes me sneeze just looking at it.

Sharon Arnold took the photo on a sunny day in late September with a ton of rabbitbrush in the foreground, it depicts volunteers of the Clear Creek Watershed Council planting elderberry and service berry bushes along one of the tributaries to the creek.

A Northern Nevada resident for 40 years, Sharon used to work for former Appeal business writer Rex Bovee when he was at the Humboldt Sun.

She said working at the newspaper was the most fun she ever had at a job.

Now she lives about 3 miles up Clear Creek Road, where she, Paul Pugsley, Dan Graytak, Glen Lemon, Carson City Treasurer Al Kramer and Jerry Walker were busy planting and cleaning.

Kurt Hildebrand is city editor at the Nevada Appeal. Reach him at hildebrand@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1215.