When Sarah Cromer, of Brighton, heard about the new hairless American Girl Dolls that the company was making, the nursing student decided she wanted to buy one as a Christmas gift and send it to the children’s oncology ward at Mott Children's hospital.
The doll had resonated with the 21-year-old who had lost her own hair during her nine month battle against cancer when she was 15.
“I think if I were younger, I would have really liked to see a doll like that,” Cromer said.
Cromer’s friend and fellow nursing student, Stephanie Perkins, of Hartland, offered to split the cost of the $100 doll with the hope of helping to brighten one little girl’s holiday.
Their simple idea began to grow as the two women spoke to family members who also offered to buy a doll to donate. And after they put their idea on their personal Facebook pages, the two women say they had a “freak-out moment from sheer excitement.”
“By the next morning we had over 20 dolls,” Perkins said. “We didn’t think we would get the reaction that we got and it was so inspiring to me to know that we have such amazing friends and family.”
Messages from people wanting to donate to their cause kept pouring in over the next few days surprising the women by the generosity of those around them.
“This is the Christmas spirit,” Perkins said. “This is what it’s all about.”
Although the donation amount ranged from enough to buy five dolls to $5 from a young cousin, giving to the children who are sick and unable to be home for Christmas was the most important part, according to the Cromer and Perkins.
“We want to let the kids know that people care about them, that we're behind them, fighting for them too,” Perkins said. “People think about them.”
By the time the order for the American Girl dolls needed to placed, Cromer and Perkins had enough money for 26 dolls, some with hair, some without, and several accessories. And still, the donations kept coming, according to the women, so the money will be used to buy boy-themed gifts as well.
Volunteering at the hospital store next week, Cromer and Perkins will help deliver the dolls and gifts that were so generously and unexpectedly donated and although their intent was never to be recognized for their efforts, the two friends hope their story would encourage others to give as well.
"This is something that everyone can do and I want people to realize the goodness in people," Perkins said. "Everyone is capable of compassion and everyone is capable of giving and I think this is one of those stories."