Elizabeth Fergio grew up alongside 10 siblings and a single mother — her father died while she was very young.
Every year for Christmas she asked for the same thing: a Shirley Temple doll.
The cheek dimples, hazel eyes, golden blonde ringlet hair and open smile were what Fergio dreamed of.
However, every year her Shirley Temple doll never came. Instead, a paper doll in its place.
Diane Martinsen may not be Santa Claus, but she is Fergio’s daughter and she wanted to make that wish finally come true.
Martinsen had heard some buzz from friends about the Assistance League of Santa Clarita’s store. She decided to go give it a look and shop for books for her classroom.
She came across Madame Alexander dolls, another type of doll Fergio collected.
Patty Nagel, an Assistance League of Santa Clarita volunteer, approached Martinsen and told her about a large donation of Shirley Temple dolls that would arrive soon.
“I don’t know if you say it like a coincidence or just a really terrific thing that happened,” said Martinsen.
As soon as the donation was in the hands of the Assistance League, Martinsen made her way over and purchased a Shirley Temple doll for her 88-year-old mother.
“When I brought it to her, I mean she was in tears. She was so overwhelmed … and just so excited about it,” said Martinsen.
After that reaction, Martinsen knew she had to go back to obtain as many of the dolls as she could. Ten dolls were left and Martinsen purchased them all.
Fergio’s 89th birthday is Sept. 11, so Martinsen used this as the perfect way to give her an early Christmas present.
“Now, she doesn’t only have one Shirley Temple doll, she has a whole collection,” said Martinsen. “Just to see her that way. I don’t even know how to describe the happiness. She raised four daughters, so while she raised us, she did pretty much everything for us and not as much for herself. It was just really great to see her so happy and just like wishful. She was very childlike when she received them.”
Now with a full collection of Shirley Temple dolls, Fergio has chosen the “Sunday best” doll as her favorite. It reminds her of all the Sundays she spent at church with her family.