Jan Householder and her volunteer staff have comforted some 13,000 children who were seriously ill, and those whose dad or mom were being deployed for military duty.

Jan, founder of  The Giving Doll, spoke to the club on September 21 about her Wadsworth-based organization. Jan, a retired home-ec teacher started making cloth dolls in 2006 for children at St. Jude's Children's Hospital, where the terminally ill 10-year-old daughter of a friend went for treatments in a research program.
Inspired by hearing about all of the sick children there, Jan began to make dolls for Katherine McVey and her mother to deliver to the hospital when they went to Memphis for treatments.

Katherine passed on 15 months after she was diagnosed with brain cancer, but Jan and her volunteers decided to keep making the dolls to comfort other children.

By 2009, with demand for the precious dolls coming from all over the country, The Giving Doll became a non-profit organization. This year, the organization is approaching its 13,000th doll.

The dolls, Jan emphasized, are not for sale, and are not available as gifts to anybody but sick children, and children of deploying military parents. All materials used to make the dolls - between $18 to $23 per doll - are donated.

Last year, The Giving Doll Shop opened at 229 College Street, in Wadsworth opened. The reconditioned building was cleaned, repaired and painted by volunteers and allows the organization to store materials and supplies, provides space for meetings and well-organized areas for working on the complete construction of the dolls.

The public is invited to visit any Tuesday or Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. to watch dolls being made, talk to volunteers, hear about the scope of the organization's outreach or find out how you can get involved. You can help by making a financial donation, donating supplies or by volunteering. For more information about The Giving Doll and how you can get involved, visit www.thegivingdoll.org.