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A ample block sits abreast Gail Harvey’s advanced aperture in Coon Rapids. It’s aloof for deliveries — mostly boxes of dolls and bears — and neatly bankrupt handmade outfits. Each day, she empties the chest, accustomed the bales to a three-stall barn in her backyard.
“It does feel like Santa’s branch at times,” Harvey said as she absolved through the space, accomplished endless and endless of dolls, bears, soccer assurance and bags of fabric.
This is the home of Don’t Cry … I’m Here, Harvey’s nonprofit that has, for the accomplished 2 ½ years, provided added than 500 anew accustomed refugee and asylum-seeking accouchement with dolls and bears that attending and dress like them.
“This is about giving these kids article adapted that’s not a blonde, baby baby that doesn’t resemble them,” Harvey said.
Each refugee babe receives a baby tailored to her ethnicity, dressed in a hand-sewn accouterments that represents the acceptable clothes of the girl’s culture. The dolls additionally appear with one added cultural dress, pajamas and a red, white and dejected outfit, as able-bodied as beard accessories, a purse and comedy food. Boys accept a buck with culturally adapted outfits. Teenagers accept a soccer brawl and a blanket.
The ability are packaged with an accouterments for the adolescent or boyhood and an age-appropriate book. Each allowance comes with a handmade agenda fabricated by accouchement from bounded schools or Babe Scout troops. Abounding of the cards accept crayon-scrawled addendum like, “I achievement I get to accommodated you someday” or, “I achievement you like the U.S.”
“They may not get too aflame about the card, but maybe they can feel for a moment that there are added kids that appetite to acceptable them here,” Harvey said.
It’s those baby capacity that accomplish Don’t Cry … I’m Actuality so special, said Margaret Yapp, advance facilitator for refugee casework at Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS), one of several refugee resettlement agencies with whom Harvey partners.
“We accept a lot of donations that appear in, but annihilation as adapted as these alone gifts,” Yapp said. “The kids, abnormally the adolescent ones, aloof go arbitrary over them.”
While LSS is able to accommodate basal aliment for a anew accustomed family, Yapp said that “to be able to accord them article that goes above those basal needs is absolutely valuable. It’s article to authority assimilate through ups and downs and unknowns.”
Harvey understands aloof what a baby can beggarly to a child. She accustomed a new Pretty as a Picture baby aback she was about 11 — two years afterwards an abnormally alarming time aback she spent a few months active with added ancestors members.
“She was actual adapted to me, and still is,” Harvey said. “That was a aeon in my activity aback she was actual needed. You body that affiliation with a baby that becomes affectionate of like a friend.”
Looking back, she said she would accept admired to accept a baby beforehand in her activity — article she could accept cradled aback she was abashed and scared.
“There’s the afflicted allotment of me that feels that, if I can accord alike a little bit of achievement and ablaze to these kids, that’s so account it,” she said.
It’s what motivates her to put eight hours a day, generally seven canicule a week, into her nonprofit. She takes no salary.
After about 25 years of bed-making and affairs accouterment for best dolls, Harvey was watching a PBS documentary about the refugee crisis and begin herself cogent her husband, “I’m starting a charity.”
She bound begin volunteers all over the country to architecture and sew the clothes or abrade the internet for deals on dolls of altered ethnicities.
The accumulation now works with agencies beyond Minnesota, North Dakota and areas of Canada, accouterment ability for newborns through teens.
“It has aloof developed and grown,” she said.
Her ultimate goal, she said, is to accompany a amount of the dolls and bears to a refugee camp, maybe in Kenya or Lebanon.
“Right now, though, it’s about extensive as abounding [children] as we can,” she said. “This has been so acceptable for my heart.”
Yapp said Harvey’s benevolence and charge to the assignment should be an archetype for added groups acquisitive to advice anew accession families.
“What Don’t Cry … I’m Actuality is accomplishing is, simultaneously, acknowledging how adamantine it is to move to a abode like the U.S., and appropriation up and anniversary the backbone and adorableness of area these families are advancing from,” Yapp said.
“It’s not patronizing. It’s celebratory and acutely valuable. Added nonprofits should attending to this as a archetypal for how to serve new communities.”
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