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Jewell Cardwell: Giving Dolls dispatched to comfort children in Newtown who lost siblings

By Jewell Cardwell
Beacon Journal columnist

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These are dolls from the Giving Doll Ministry founded by Jan Householder of Wadsworth and photographed in the studio Monday, Dec. 17, 2012 in Akron, Ohio. The dolls will be given to children in Newtown, Connecticut whose siblings were murdered last week at their elementary school. (Karen Schiely/Akron Beacon Journal)

A friend forwarded this quote that is so applicable to the unimaginable tragedy Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that claimed the lives of 20 first-graders and six adults:

“Faith is not about everything turning out OK. Faith is about being OK no matter how things turn out.”

While we’re all paralyzed with grief and helplessness, there are those among us waking up to the need to do something to show how much we care.

Locally, that’s taking many forms.

Not surprisingly, the first person I heard from was Wadsworth’s Jan Householder, founder of the Giving Doll ministry.

Householder has legions of dedicated volunteers making personalized, soft-sculpture dolls to distribute to children in crisis, whether it be a serious illness or having a military parent serving in harm’s way. Its mission is to give faith, love, hope and comfort to children at times of special need.

“I know you are as heartbroken as we all are over the deaths of these children,” Householder wrote.

“I have been able to make contact with a preschool teacher in Darien, Conn., just 30 minutes from the Newtown area and attended Sandy Hook Elementary School. She has family living in the Newtown area and is in contact with some of the families. We want to be very mindful to respect their privacy. We will be sending close to 50 dolls on Thursday …

“The dolls were made by volunteers from the Wadsworth, Orrville, Barberton and Doylestown Giving Doll programs … We had given out just about all of our dolls for Christmas, but when I contacted some of the group leaders, they were more than willing to help get dolls made and ready to send.”

Householder said she and the volunteers hope to be able to send more dolls to Sandy Hook school counselors after the first of the year to help with ongoing counseling.

St. Francis Xavier Parish in Medina asked its parishioners over the weekend to sign a giant condolence card to be sent this week to St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown.

Authorities had earlier identified that eight of the 20 children killed, as well as the shooter and his mother, were parishioners at the church.

Father Anthony Sejba, pastor at St. Francis, said the response was so overwhelming at the Medina County church of more than 3,000 families that additional boards had to be purchased, and were filled on both sides, so that everyone who wanted to sign had that opportunity.

Sejba said the messages and prayers were so poignant they easily moved one to tears. A prayer on one of the six boards that stood out was penned by a school-aged child:

“Dear Jesus, Please help the kids have fun in heaven. Amen.”

Akron’s Danielle Hanna launched a Facebook posting: “One Good Thing, One Good Day.” The idea? To invite 10,000 folks to commit to doing an act of kindness on Friday.

By Monday afternoon, she had already surpassed that goal, and nearly 500 had accepted the invitation. “So, we raised the bar to 100,000 invites,” Hanna wrote.

“My partner [Gift Sawatchoonpon] and I had no idea, but great hopes that it would catch, and it is!”

The posting reads in part:

“You are warmly and eagerly invited to join each other for a day of good. There is no monetary fee, the cost may be easy for some, more difficult for others, but the return is limitless. We have all read the stories of a random act of kindness — and we all have been moved by them. Some of us have been fortunate enough to experience them firsthand. These simple gestures of humanity, the recognition that we all are here together, the ease of a bad situation because of one kind word or notion, makes the difference we long to see, but don’t know where to start…

“So, I’m choosing, right now, to let go of the ideas that have enabled the world to reach its current state. I am not just one person, helpless to do anything. Peace is easier than opposition. Compassion and love are stronger, spread more quickly and more easily than negativity. All it takes is one small spark to bring light into a dark room …

“I’m asking all those willing to join me, for just one thing. A single act of goodness. Give freely and openly — kind words, a caring conversation where there wouldn’t normally be one, a helping hand to someone who needs it, listen to someone who wants to be heard, speak to someone who wants to hear what you have to say — just reach out in some small way. Let someone know and feel that you care. A total stranger, your child, your neighbor, your boss who doesn’t treat you as good as he/she should.”

Ready for that change you say you want to see? “Post your comments, questions, stories of encouragement,” Hanna continued. “The Facebook invite is also set to public access, pass it on to your own friends list. This is not a Facebook-only event; Facebook is merely being used as a tool to spread the word …

“There is no set time on Friday. You decide as your day unfolds when, where, who.”

Find Danielle Hanna’s page on Facebook and follow the link to One Good Thing, One Good Day.

Have a good Friday and remember to share the love.

Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or

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