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Homeless Doll Raises Controversy

December 6, 1991

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Activists are urging an end to sales of a doll portraying a homeless girl, although part of its price is donated to homeless causes.

The wide-eyed ″Streethearts″ doll, shoeless and wearing a flannel shirt, jeans and knitted cap, trivializes ″the problem of homelessness and particularly homelessness among children,″ said the Rev. Richard Schuster, executive director of St. Luke’s Community Services. The non-profit group runs a homeless shelter in Stamford, Conn.

But Judy Conners, Salvation Army development director in Wichita, lauded the doll sold by a Wichita man, saying it helps people realize the homeless aren’t just old men, drunks or bag ladies.

Last year, the Walt Disney Co. stopped selling a ″Steve the Tramp″ doll after pressure from homeless activists.

Schuster criticized the doll at a news conference Tuesday in Stamford and wrote its developer, asking him to pull it from store shelves.

But Richard Alldritt said it’s far too late to do so. He has been selling the doll to upscale stores from his office in Wichita.

Fewer than 1,000 dolls have been sold nationwide, he said. Less than 10,000 have been made.

Alldritt said he came up with the idea for the doll after noticing homeless children on a trip to Portland, Ore.

Bill Gress of the Anthony Family Shelter and the Rev. Gerry Winget of United Urban Ministries, both of Wichita, agreed with complaints about the doll. They said it smacks of exploitation.

Five dollars from the $50 retail price of the doll goes to charity.

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