Dorothy Crane has a purpose. A talent. And a God-given gift that she has graciously shared with sick children. Dorothy is having a birthday; she’ll soon celebrate her 100th. 

A resident of Black Canyon City, she makes collage books out of construction paper, with cut-out pictures from magazines, creating uplifting and beautiful picture books. Her mission is to bring smiles and comfort to suffering children and every day she makes little works of art, punching holes, tying ribbon, arranging and pasting pictures, in a true labor of love.

Author H. Faizal who wrote “We Hunt the Flame,” claimed, “life without a purpose, is no life at all.” Purpose is not restricted by age, health, wealth or circumstance. It is the inner drive to forge ahead, make a difference, know that our efforts matter, that our journey is richer when we have a goal.

My mother died at the age of 97. Her last few years were difficult as she moved out of the family home, into assisted living. As her health was failing, one of her missions at the nursing home was to improve the food by “teaching” the cooking staff how to cook. 

At age 96, she revised her cookbook that she had written years before. She held cooking classes at the nursing home. The lesson? Keep going. The rewards (to yourself and others) are huge.

Dorothy is a role model for each of us. Her husband of 64 years passed away many years ago and to work through her grief, she poured her heart into craft projects. The one project that dominated her time and became a core purpose, was the collage books. When 30 books are completed, Dorothy boxes them up and sends them to a children’s hospital on her list of 20. 

So how many books has Dorothy made? A whopping 17,000 books have been lovingly created, sent and received! Every box that is sent brings hope, joy and encouragement to an ill child. What a legacy! 

Boxes of collage books are sent to numerous hospitals in five states. How is this possible? Neighbors and friends in Black Canyon City take magazines, paper, glue and other supplies to Dorothy Crane. Often these helpful folks take the boxes to the post office and pay for the postage. One lady inspires a whole town to spring to action. And we are all better because of it!

A couple of the hospitals who receive these books in Arizona are John C. Lincoln and Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Today a child is in a hospital room, perhaps frightened and in need of comfort. And today, a sick child will receive a happy, handmade book of pictures of kittens, doggies, rabbits, unicorns, sunsets and princesses... And many more images that are joyful reminders of a wonderful world. 

How do we spread hope and love? If you are Dorothy Crane, one book at a time. And 100 years of living and giving is a milestone to emulate and celebrate. Thank you, Dorothy!

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor. Have a story or a comment? Please contact Bluhm at