As The Beatles powerfully pointed out, “All you need is love.” That phrase can sum up Mary Page Jones’s non-profit, all-volunteer organization, Rag Dolls 2 Love Inc. Jones began making soft cloth dolls in September 2003 in her home of Wapiti, Wyo., with the mission to brighten the lives of children living in war-ravaged countries. In December of that year, Jones and the dolls made their way to Honolulu when her husband was assigned as an interim priest at St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church in Palama.
It was there that Jones met Sunday school director Sue Yap (pictured above). Upon seeing the odd-looking doll under Jones’s arm, Yap began asking the questions, “What’s the doll,” “What’s the mission of the project,” and most importantly, “Who’s going to make them?”
Yap was told that each doll measures 20 inches long, allowing it to fit perfectly in a child’s arm, and that the simplicity of the doll lends it universal appeal. As for who will make the dolls, Jones’s simple response was volunteers.
With this information, Yap - copies of the doll pattern in hand - went to other Sunday school teachers, students and parishioners to get people sewing. By June the first 65 rag dolls were blessed, commissioned and shipped to children at a hospital in Israel’s Gaza Strip.
“The rag dolls carried with them God’s blessings and prayers to the parents of the children to let them know they were not forgotten,” Yap remembers.
Even though Jones returned to Wapiti in 2004, Yap and others at St. Elizabeth’s continue crafting away. And while Rag Dolls 2 Love ships to 28 countries the world over, Yap says the dolls made through St. Elizabeth’s are given specifically to children in Iraq and Afghanistan for a very noble reason: Yap’s nephew, 1st Lt. Nainoa Hoe, served with the Stryker Brigade Combat Team in Mosul, Iraq, and was killed in combat in January 2005. To honor Hoe, those at the church decided to focus their shipments of rag dolls to Hoe’s men stationed in those countries.
“The rag dolls are sent with prayers and God’s blessings, not only for the children who will receive them, but to the volunteers who lovingly stitch and sew them, and to our brave men and women in uniform who distribute them,” explains Yap.
All of the church parishioners are in some way involved - be it supporting or donating their time, resources and prayers. Apparently good news travels fast, as countless others in the community actively participate in the Rag Dolls 2 Love cause. Senior citizen groups Pali Seniors (rallied by Nora Kurosu) and Moanalua Seniors (rallied by Nancy Au and Pearl Kau); the organizations Na Lima Hana with Ellie Lum and the St. Andrew’s Priory Interact Club and Alumnae Board; and volunteers from St. Elizabeth’s Church and other Episcopal churches have reached out to help children who have turned all too quickly into adults. Yap says there are also dolls “in residence” for children to hold as volunteers read them stories every Wednesday afternoon in the Children’s Outreach/Reading Program at the church. She added that to help those affected by the recent California wildfires, St. Elizabeth’s will send dolls to San Diego children care of the Episcopal Relief and Development Fund and the 2007 Fire Relief Fund.
Truly, “Love is all you need.”
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