A local retired nurse has now crocheted almost 2,000 Izzy dolls for children who've gone through war or natural disasters.

"My cousin was involved in a charity, Days for Girls Springfield, and she was sewing for them. She knows I crochet so she's always looking for something for me to do. She sent me this pattern and asked me if I wanted to make dolls for this charity," says Shelby Sturby. "I was hooked."

That was back in December of 2018 and she hasn't stopped since. 

"They [the dolls] go to the Middle East, Central and South America, North and East Africa, Asia, Europe, and they've even gone to Fort McMurray after the fire and to Moncton after the shooting. They've gone all over."

It takes Sturby roughly one hour to crochet a doll, longer if it's a girl doll with a hat or frill on the dress. 

"I've actually received photos of kids in Guatemala receiving them, which was amazing to get. I could actually recognize the dolls that I crocheted. It really touches the heart."

Some of the Izzy dolls Shelby Sturby has crocheted.Some of the Izzy dolls Shelby Sturby has crocheted. (Supplied)

The idea was started by a Canadian Armed Forces soldier, Master Cpl. Mark Isfeld.

"He saw a discarded doll in some rumble and he felt sorry for the children that were missing their precious dolls. So he asked his mother if she would make some sort of doll that he would carry around and give out to children. She did that and he started giving them out on his peace-keeping missions."

Unfortunately, not too long after, Cpl. Isfeld was killed in a landmine accident. However, from seeing the joy on kid's faces from his idea, the soldier's comrades wanted to keep it going. 

According to Sturby, Cpl. Isfeld's mother continued to make Izzy dolls and the soldiers handed them out to children on missions. Then they started sending them to medical clinics for children there. 

"It has blossomed and now it will go even in Canada to children that are terrified by the situation they're in such as a natural disaster or warn torn countries."

Sturby sends her finished Izzy dolls to a charity that distributes them to World Vision and International Hope, which is based out of Winnipeg. 

"Selfishly it keeps me busy. Really they're not that hard to make and I just think of these poor kids. I think of my grandchildren and all that they have and these children often have nothing, which breaks my heart."

At first, Sturby started buying yarn and stuffing on her own but as people got wind of what she was doing, donations of materials started to pour in. 

"Sometimes I think I should stop doing this and I just can't," she says.