A Doll Like Me
In my life pre-children, I was a social worker in a pediatric oncology unit. In my time working with the kids, I used dolls in play therapy to help the children express themselves. Dolls are therapeutic in so many ways - ways that I'm not sure we fully understand. It is a human likeness and by extension, a representation of the child who loves it.
One day I realized that the dolls’ thick hair and perfect health were doing the kids I was working with a disservice as they were often faced with a wide variety of physical challenges. Many kids have never have had the opportunity to see their sweet faces reflected in a doll. It's hard to tell a child that they are beautiful but follow it with - but you'll never see yourself in anything that looks like you.
About four years ago, I was making non-traditional Raggedy Ann dolls. My favorite was a Raggedy Ann for a little girl who was transitioning - green cropped hair and a Ninja Turtle outfit! A friend of a friend saw it and shared him. A woman whose daughter had just had a leg amputated reached out and asked if I could make a doll for her. It was like lightning in a jar. In the past four years, I’ve personally made over 300 dolls and there are a lot of people still on the waitlist. This is where you come in!
Typically, parents or caregivers pay for the dolls - about $100 with shipping per doll. When they can’t afford it, I’ll find a way to cover it myself. Whatever it costs, whatever I have to do, I’m going to get a doll in the hands of these children. This isn’t just a business. It’s the right thing to do.
Doll-making has allowed me to combine my love of dolls with my passion for social work. I have always been disappointed in the lack of diversity in dolls. So, as my mom taught me, if you don't like it, do something about it!
I have partnered with a children's hospital to identify kids who might benefit from having a doll for comfort as they go through their medical care. The money raised here will help me do that. Funds raised will be used to pay for materials and shipping to cover the cost of dolls for those who can’t afford it. Any remaining funds will be used towards turning A Doll Like Me into an official non-profit organization.
Ultimately, I don’t want any parent to have to pay for something that’s so important. If we’re going to look at mental health as a necessary part of medical care, this is key. If you want validation and play therapy, you need these dolls. My ultimate goal is to fulfill every doll order that comes in and not have the families have to pay for it.
I appreciate you reading the story of A Doll Like Me, and I wish you fulfillment in your life no matter what the challenge.
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Here’s how I answered - because these aren’t “just dolls.” Each doll represents a person and a wonderful story. So no....the novelty hasn’t worn off. I think that when it does, it’s time to stop!
Her follow up question was - how do you separate yourself and your emotions from the dolls and the people they represent?
This, my friends, is my greatest asset and my greatest liability. I don’t separate and I like to think that’s what makes these special. As a result, I think about these little people a lot.
This doll was incredibly hard to make.
He isn’t FOR a child...he’s the memory of one. He’s going to this boy’s mama because her friend wanted her to have something to hold when she thought about him (shouldn’t we all have a friend like that?). Luke died after his fourth relapse with cancer - an ependymoma brain tumor.
He would be the same age as my oldest. I look into his face and see my own son’s. This was a very difficult doll to make. He was purchased by a sweet angel who is a stranger to this mom...because isn’t it our moral responsibility to support one another?
I pray that this doll not only brings comfort, but represents a tangible form of support and kindness. And I hope that it shows us the importance of reaching out ❤️ Thank you once again for sharing this view...it impacts people in more ways than you know.
"A Doll Like Me has been a great blessing for our little girl and for our family. Our daughter was born with a facial difference and the doll we received from A Doll Like Me had helped us to show her that even thought she looks different she is still beautiful.
This doll, that was sponsored by complete strangers, was a great gift not only for our little girl but for our family. It helped to show us that there are wonderful people in the world who care and want to help.
Our little girl will have challenges and hard times ahead of her with people who might not accept her differences as easily as others but by gifting her this doll we have been able to discuss her differences and show her just how beautiful and important she is.
These dolls are blessings and not every family is able to afford the expenses of one because of medical bills that pile up or for other reasons but it truly is an amazing gift to give to, to help even just one child feel that they are loved."
I've already said what your generosity means to me...but I think it's important to know what it means to a family. Joy graciously allowed me to share what it meant to her...because I think we underestimate what an act of kindness from a perfect stranger can mean to a child.
"Having a child with a condition that is one in a half million is pretty rare...I’ve sometimes wondered how he’ll feel when the questions start getting directed to him, for my reply as of now is simply 'he’s a chocolate chip cookie.' When I found out about a Doll Like Me I was over the moon with happiness. Finally, someone who looks like him and can be his buddy in a world that can often be cruel. When Keagan’s buddy “Chip” (for chocolate chip) arrived, I was stunned at how much it matched him. Wow! Keagan loved him from the start and Chip has been to every procedure and surgery with us (including today). He’s also become a great source of smiles and a wonderful teaching tool for children, adults and those in the medical field. I’m thrilled beyond measure and eternally grateful for A Doll Like Me. "
The dolls and I have had a bit of media attention!
While it's very exciting for me...it's also very exciting for all of the people that these dolls represent!!! I've been talking a lot about "the narrative" and how that affects these kids. I am so happy about all of this. And I am humbled by and grateful for YOUR support. You are changing the narrative for little people one doll at a time.
This was a piece that appeared on CBS Milwaukee this weekend...Thank you to Pari Cruz for sharing this story with dignity and compassion. The Bellas of the world are listening!
Pls help us to raise fund for my gf .. she is suffering from lgmd limbe girdle mascular dystrophy .. may be next yr gene therapy will be the cure for all mascular dytrophies ... we don' t have much money to go for it .. I can send u all the reports bt pls help us .. my name is mayank sharma from india my gf name is rama sharma she lives in dehradun uttrakhand my paypal link is Paypal.me/rahulecom1996 Pls help us pls
Hi Amy. First, I want to thank you for putting your time & money, and heart, into making all of these! I can’t imagine how many children out there would love, & benefit from these dolls! Second, I wanted to know if I am misunderstanding something you wrote in the original story, regarding the “little girl who was transitioning”. I consider this to mean that this little girl, whether it be by name, how she would dress, or (god forbid) surgery., is actually going through some type of a sex change to become a little boy? Is this correct? You obviously have no obligation to respond, but I’d definitely appreciate it if you did. Thanks!
I am 16 years old student whose family has financial problems. Please check my account. All I ask is for you read. It is up to you if you want to help me.
That is a beautiful update :) 2/13/19
CAN EVERYONE PLEASE HELP ME!!!!! I HAVE 2 CHILDREN & IM ABOUT TO LOSE MY PLACE I LIVE IN ST. LOUIS MO
please help me with my go fund me also please
Have you done a type 1 diabetic?
Please share my story, thank you! “Michelle has a Calling to Fulfill”
Amy: You are an earth angel! I'm so happy to have "met" you and been given the opportunity to help all your babies!
Wow you are really doing great you I love that
HENIZ STADIUM MODEL PLEASE HELP