“My daughter grew up in that dollhouse,” says a mother who lost her child to cancer. The dollhouse which was donated by Dollhouses for Kids Battling Cancer, allowed this child and her mother to play out events such as the daughter’s graduation from high school, her prom, her wedding and her children in the miniature walls of the dollhouse, events the daughter did not live to enjoy in real life.
Dollhouses for Kids Battling Cancer is a one woman effort started by Ann (who likes to remain anonymous) after hearing what children go through while dealing with cancer from her daughter Faith, an experienced nurse and soon to be nurse practitioner in the field of oncology. According to Ann, the stories of bravery and the pain of the procedures children endure in the fight against cancer broke her heart and she wanted to do something that would help bring a little happiness to their lives. In January 2014, Ann created her 300th dollhouse which will be donated to the Hope Foundation in New York. Ann started her first dollhouse for kids with cancer in 2006 and she has been making these miniature versions of hope ever since. Ann’s goal with her dollhouses is to provide children with a toy that can stimulate their imagination and help take their minds off the procedures and pain they are dealing as their bodies fight cancer.
Working in partnership with The Magical Dollhouse and its generous patrons, Ann gets to work on a new dollhouse for a child with cancer as soon as a customer donates a dollhouse for the cause. According to Anne, she can create a completed and furnished dollhouse in a week’s time. Each completed dollhouse is painted, decorated, furnished and provided with a dollhouse family before delivery. Dollhouses are created for both boys and girls though in general, there are not as many donations of miniature buildings appropriate for boys as there are for girls. To personalize the gifting, all dollhouses are first donated to doctors working with children with cancer. Each child that receives a dollhouse believes it is their doctor who is giving them the dollhouse further cementing the bond between doctor and child. Dollhouses are also donated to play rooms in children’s oncology wards, Ronald McDonald Houses, Bereavement Centers and for fundraisers for cancer research. Therapists at bereavement centers use the dollhouses for role playing with children who have lost siblings to cancer.
Dollhouses for Kids Battling Cancer is not an organization or a nonprofit. Ann does not accept financial donations and because of the expense and difficulty she cannot ship dollhouses to individuals or organizations. Most of the dollhouse kits are donated through the Magical Dollhouse website with the price of dollhouses subsidized and shipping of the kits to Ann being donated by Greenleaf Dollhouses. Once a dollhouse is complete they are driven to their destination by family and friends and other volunteers. One individual volunteered to drive from her home in Chicago to pick up a completed dollhouse at Ann’s home in New York and then drive it to its final destination. To purchase a dollhouse kit or other items for the cause go to Dollhouses for a Cause. You can also follow Ann’s mission on her Facebook page.