Last week, we had a very special HappyDoll event with the children affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Our new volunteer Travis, who is currently studying social entrepreneurship at NYU, was able to join us!
We asked him to share his experience with you:
"On Tuesday, March 26th, I traveled to Hoboken, New Jersey to connect with the Boys and Girls Club of Hudson County and a non-profit called HappyDoll. During the visit, nearly 70 boys and girls decorated HappyDolls and then generously donated them to other children around the world. Early on in the event, however, it became clear that this was much more than just an exchange of dolls.
From the outset, the beauty of diversity was highlighted by the children’s interest in the different dolls from across the globe. The dolls from Uganda, Japan, and Honduras received particular attention with the children of the Boys and Girls Club wanting to learn more about the cultures of these newly discovered places.
Additionally, the children that had already been exposed to these cultures were able to offer their insights into these exciting locations. One boy in particular informed his peers that he used to live in France and wanted to write a message in French on the back of the doll. Several other children encouraged him and they each became excited to talk about and share the stories of their families.
It seemed that on a local level, the decoration process brought out a sense of both collaboration and diversity because the designs were a reflection of these unique and remarkable young people. When a child complimented a doll’s design, he or she was complimenting the child who made it. Considering that sharing and diversity played such an important role in thinking about the designs, everyone was proud to display these self-reflections.
Wycliffe Daniels, the Director of Development at the Boys and Girls Club commented that he saw kids within the Club making new interactions with each other as well. Youth of different ages and different schools worked together, inspiring one another’s designs and fostering curiosity.
As a college student, my peers and I are often guilty of closing our minds even in our pursuit of higher education. It is tempting to think that we know it all and that the world is a limited place. But being around these fresh and brilliant minds reminded me of what learning and experiencing is all about. I was astonished by how insightful and motivated these young people were. It was refreshing being around students that were so eager to learn and that were so confident in their questioning.
The most profound moment, however, was the final “Bon Voyage” ceremony. These young artists had put so much of themselves into their designs that giving the dolls up was a highly emotional moment. Even the older children, who had been more reserved at the beginning of the session, wanted to keep and show off their dolls. But in the end, they courageously decided to pass on their dolls to other children whom they had never met. This act of generosity demonstrated the children’s ability to think in the context of a global community. By giving up their dolls without expecting anything in return, they acknowledged the value in helping others prosper.
Selfless giving often creates moments of unexpected good. For the children at the Boys and Girls Club, this moment came thanks to the kindness of the first graders at the Girls Prep Lower East Side Elementary School.
In January, the girls themselves participated with HappyDoll in decorating 74 dolls with the intention of giving them to those affected by Hurricane Sandy. These dolls came as a welcomed surprise to the Boys and Girls Club, who were then given the opportunity to experience a fuller perspective of giving in the most genuine sense of the word."
We hope Travis' experience gave you an insight into what HappyDoll.org is about!
Finally, we would like to send a BIG THANK YOU to the Boys & Girls Club of Hudson County, to the Double Tree Hotel and their volunteers for providing snacks to the children, to our volunteers (Andy and Travis), and last but not the least, to all the children for sharing their creativity and love.
Stay tuned because we’ve got more exciting events coming your way…