By Shari Fuller
Hannah, like most little girls her age, loves to play with dolls, so much so that her mother has given her the responsibility to love and care for the hundreds of dolls that have been entrusted to them. Their vast collection of dolls is a treasure trove for a young girl, but upon closer inspection, it is easy to see that many of them have been battered, bruised, and neglected. Thanks to Hannah and her mother however, they have not been abandoned. This will not be the permanent home for any of these dolls, but more of a resting place where they will be lovingly cleaned, repaired, and loved by Hannah and her mother until they look as good as new. When they are ready, Hannah carefully chooses two special outfits and a cozy quilt for each doll, then sits them down to teach them good manners and give them an education to prepare them for their for their forever home.
Hannah and her mother, Sheryl Booth, launched their ministry, “The Broken Doll”, just last year, but it wasn’t something they had set out to do. In fact, it began with Sheryl’s desire to get Hannah her own American Girl doll. Unable to afford a new one, Sheryl looked online and was able to purchase a set of two second hand ones for only $35 – but they were in pretty rough shape. Undeterred, she searched YouTube for videos that would teach her how to fix them and chronicled her experience on Facebook. Sheryl had found her niche, and she and Hannah began to spending more and more time together repairing and playing with dolls. Sheryl’s husband once asked her why she spent so much time doing this, but as a Christian she believed that God had a purpose for her and felt that if He put it on her heart to play with dolls, He would show her how to use it to serve Him. Before long, she caught the attention of a woman who needed help repainting some Bitty Baby heads. After airbrushing them back to their factory color, Sheryl asked her what she was going to do with them and learned that they were to be donated to foster kids. That was all the inspiration Sheryl needed to start her ministry and it didn’t take long for God to take her to task. The next day, someone contacted her about fixing more dolls, which prompted her to create “The Broken Doll’s” Facebook page the following day. Within two weeks, she had over 50 dolls waiting to be cleaned and repaired.
In just a year, “The Broken Doll” has become a complete enterprise spanning three countries. Upwards of 50 women sew doll clothes and quilts, locate dolls and supplies, and donate money to cover additional shipping and supply costs. Doll manufacturers and retail stores from as far away as England have donated brand new dolls in need of minor repairs and a seamstress from Georgia, lovingly referred to as “Fairy Pam” creates additional outfits. It’s a labor of love, and even though she’s quite busy with her three young children, Sheryl wouldn’t have it any other way. “I’m just obeying what God told me to do. I enjoy repainting these dolls ~ resculpting them from eyebrows to freckles. I love the fact that I can take something defective, make it perfect, and then give it back to some little girl to treasure forever.”
Despite their appearance, Hannah and her mother see something of worth in each and every one of the dolls that pass through their hands, in much the same way that there is something of great worth in each of the children whose hands receive them. Hannah works happily alongside her mother, knowing that there are many children who don’t have the pleasure of such a close relationship with their mom or dad. The dolls that Hannah and Sheryl care for have been broken and are in need of a forever home, and it is their hope that the love and care that they pour into each of these dolls will help to fill the empty places in the hearts of each broken child that receives them; perhaps through them, the dolls can help these children learn what it means to trust, love, and and care for others themselves.
“The Broken Doll” donates dolls to children in foster homes and orphanages and is a completely charitable ministry that is made possible through financial donations that cover shipping costs and supplies as well as donations of items such as dolls, clothing, doll quilts, wigs, and doll parts. If you’d like more information or would like to help in any way, please contact Sheryl Booth at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to her via Facebook at “The Broken Doll” where you can follow their activities and find a list of their current needs. Monetary donations can be sent through PayPal as friends and family (no fees that way) to email@example.com