NORTH CAROLINA - (Bailey Aldridge/News&Observer) - A North Carolina company’s effort to help children with deployed parents turned out much bigger than expected.
Dyal Studios, a photography and design studio in Jacksonville, started a “hug-a-hero” doll giveaway a couple of weeks ago after many North Carolina troops were deployed, Tricia Dyal, the studio’s owner, told McClatchy News.
Each doll has a photo of the child’s deployed mom or dad printed on it.
Dyal, whose husband is a retired Marine, started the company Daddy Dolls, which sells the “hug-a-hero” dolls, with one of her friends 15 years ago, she said.
She started making the dolls after her great aunt made a similar doll that helped comfort her young daughter while Dyal’s husband was deployed, she said.
Dyal said with the increased need among families in the area, her studio started a drawing to give away one doll a week to a local family for 12 weeks.
But requests poured in, and the studio has now had over 500, Dyal said.
Along with that, people in the community have stepped up and donated to sponsor dolls.
Dyal said one of her clients, who is a real estate agent, donated $5,000 to the giveaway and challenged every other real estate agent in the town to do the same.
“So it’s just become this Daddy Doll challenge and so now everybody is challenging the other person,” Dyal said.
Dyal said her studio is meeting Wednesday to figure out how to get all these dolls to families who need them because drawing a name out of a bowl once a week isn’t going to work now that the effort is so large.
“I think I’m going to try to team up with the USO or Red Cross to help us distribute the dolls because I don’t think my studio can keep up with the supply and demand,” she said.
She said the giveaway was originally meant to help families in the Jacksonville area, but the need goes beyond that.