Payton Haynes received a heartwarming gift on the last day before summer vacation. Students from Cracker Trail Elementary School in Sebring, FL. gave him a custom-made doll that reflects his surgery scars. They purchased the toy from A Doll Like Me, a nonprofit organization started by Amy Jandrisevits, a former social worker from a pediatric oncology unit. She creates unique dolls for children with disabilities.
Social Worker Turned Doll Maker
Jandrisevits sees her doll making as a ministry. "I am a doll maker who feels that every kid, regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, medical issue, or body type, should have a doll who looks like them," Jandrisevits said.
The former social worker was inspired to start her business to help children see their differences reflected in their toys. She began making non-traditional Raggedy Ann Dolls for children with disabilities. The toy maker constructs each one to match sick children's unique physical characteristics and medical issues.
Each toy costs $100 to produce, so Jandrisevits recently started a GoFundMe campaign to cover costs for families who can't afford them.
Cracker Trail Elementary School students held a fundraiser last year. Lead teacher Liz Pendergast said the students unanimously voted to donate $500 to help an ill student. They decided to give the funds to Payton Haynes, a student at a different school. His mother asked the children to use part of the money to buy a custom-made doll.
Payton has craniosynostosis. According to the CDC, this illness causes the bones in babies' skulls to join too early. He has already undergone several surgeries for the condition.
When Jandrisevits heard Payton's story, she spent a weekend making his doll. She wanted the students to present the doll to him in person. The child's face lit up with excitement as soon as he saw the toy. He named the doll "Little Payton."
For more information on this and related topics, visit the Behavioral Health section of our blog.
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