This holiday season, a dozen Missouri kids whose parents couldn’t afford gifts received an ornate, handmade dollhouse, all thanks to an 81-year-old retiree named Earl Hurshman. For the past year, Hurshman has been using nearly all of his monthly social security checks to buy dollhouse supplies at his local hobby store, and assembles the miniature Victorians, Tudors, and Colonials (plus fire stations and barns for boys) in the basement of his modest home. He finds recipients for his dollhouses by putting up flyers and asking around the community for families that might need some help with gifts. “He is a real angel on earth,” says the mother of a dollhouse recipient. “Earl makes me want to be a better person. There’s no way I’ll ever be able to repay him, but I’ll pay it forward.” As if Hurshman’s heartfelt deeds weren’t touching enough, wait until you hear the reason he started doing it…
After 50 years of happy marriage, Hurshman’s wife Bernadette passed away two years ago. Hurshman still visits Bernadette’s grave every day with a single red rose (“a dozen on her birthday and our anniversary”). Last year, on Bernadette’s birthday, Hurshman was feeling lonely, sad, and restless. After delivering her bouquet, he asked his late wife to give him some guidance.
“I could just hear her, and excuse my language, but she said, ‘ Get off your ass and do something!’”
And so Hurshman’s dollhouse idea took shape, and Christmas this year was that much sweeter for a dozen disadvantaged kids. I don’t know about you, but next time I’m feeling aimless, I’m going to think about Earl’s dollhouses, and Bernadette’s wise words, and “get off my ass and do something!”