Unitarian Church exhibits stuffed elephants

A colorful show of stuffed cotton elephants created by Nancy Diaz is on display at the Stetson Gallery in the Unitarian Universalist Church, 28 Mugford St.

Diaz will also be displaying stuffed teddy bears made as prototypes for puppets to illustrate her friend’s book about the relationship between a polar bear and a black bear.

Searching for a meaningful way to fill her time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, Diaz made 17 colorful gingham elephants that she donated to Temple Sinai’s collection of gifts for the New American Center in Lynn.

The center supports countries such as Afghanistan and Ukraine with grants, finds housing for newcomers, and collects toys and books for children.

“They were such a big hit, I made twenty more,” said Diaz.

The stuffed animals are currently hanging from the walls of the Unitarian church, looking for families to treasure them.

Diaz teaches a knitting group at temple Sinai, making hats, scarves, fingerless gloves, and baby blankets for shelters such as Lifebridge and Hawk, both of which offer resources to women who have been abused. Diaz has also sewn many of her own outfits as well as made quilts and sweaters for friends and family.

During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when personal protective equipment (PPE) was difficult to find, Diaz made hundreds of face masks from fabric she had collected over the years and gave them to people who had trouble finding PPE.

She also has knitted a large supply of yarmulkes, which she plans to donate to local temples where they can be used to cover the heads of congregants.

To support Diaz, the community is invited to celebrate with her on Feb. 26 at noon at 28 Mugford St. in Marblehead. Refreshments will be served.