Kaneohe retiree crafts elaborate dollhouses

By Diane Ako - bio | email and Taires Hiranaka

KANEOHE (KHNL) - A Kaneohe man spends his retirement years building dollhouses. But these aren't just any kid's toys. These are four feet tall, and a labor of love for this Windward grandpa.

85-year-old Ernie Soares is hard at work building another house. A dollhouse, that is, complete with all the furnishings.

"If I make one dollhouse, I can make furniture, everything to go in it in six to eight weeks," said Soares.

The tiny beds, the small steps, even a miniature mirror for a vanity! It's quite a process.

"First part of the year I make all the furniture. I know how many dollhouses I'm going to need. How many bathrooms. Second half of the year I cut all the houses."

He overlooks no detail in recreating rooms- and rooms with a view!

"I've been doing this since 1975," smiled Soares from his workbench.

Every year, Soares gives his dollhouses to a dozen little girls, most of them from needy families. "When I see their face light up, so happy, it makes me feel good," he said.

This former shipyard worker says he feels like Santa when he distributes the toys right before Christmas.

"It makes me feel so good. When I would come home my wife would say, 'How did you guys do?' I would say, 'Honey, I'm very happy. I see all these kids. I even see kids cry because they say, 'I've never had one of these things in all my life.' When I seen that it makes my heart feel so soft."

For Soares, home is where the heart is - many times over!

If you know of a charity or a needy family that would appreciate a dollhouse, you can call Ernie Soares at (808) 234-5651.

He asks that you please not call before 9 a.m. or after 9 p.m.