Maryann's dolls lifting spirits of kids in poverty

Charity Project KIN making and distributing dolls to disadvantaged children

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MARYANN'S DOLLHOUSE: Maryann Webb's charity Project KIN distributes handmade dolls to kids living in poverty. Photo: Stef Thoms Photography.

MARYANN'S DOLLHOUSE: Maryann Webb's charity Project KIN distributes handmade dolls to kids living in poverty. Photo: Stef Thoms Photography.

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Mother of three Maryann Webb knows dolls can be great for kids dealing with anxiety.

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AS a mother, Port Stephens resident Maryann Webb knows children can suffer from anxiety for various reasons, so she decided to form a charity to help those who are living in poverty.

The mother of three is the founder of Project KIN - a registered, community centred charity which aims to help break the cycle of disadvantage of children living in poverty by providing them with care kits containing hand made dolls and a storybook.

A primary school teacher turned stay at home Mum, Maryann was inspired to create the charity due to her eldest daughter Ellie's anxiety at bed time.

"If a fortunate child with a loving family routine surrounded by a room full of toys and books still felt anxious about going to sleep, how does a child living in poverty or the victim of trauma cope?," she said.

"Bringing them packs brings a light and a joy to them and encourages parents to be more actively involved in the moment and to really connect with their kids."

The charity currently has over 400 registered volunteers, an online community of almost 700 and more than 600 volunteers overall, living within all states and territories.

Volunteers make, assemble and distribute play and learn kits containing handmade dolls which have been created by a volunteer, the Project Kin storybook Imagine if You Had a Friend - which tells the story of the child meeting their new friend and an activity kit.

Maryann - who lives with husband Matt and daughters Ellie, Amelia and Piper, said children loved the comforting feeling of having something to cuddle, but inter personal relationships could also sometimes cause anxiety.

"With dolls, all fear can just disappear and they think 'I can relate to this doll -it's a bit like me'."

The packs are gifted to Australian children through organisations including Salvation Army, Anglicare, Wesley Mission, Jericho Road and Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation.

Volunteers have also brought new ideas to the charity - such as making accessories including quilts and pyjamas for the dolls.

Maryann said the charity was keen to welcome new volunteers to contribute in a number of ways.

"If you're already in a sewing group, share information with the group and work together,' she said.

There are also various ways for non-crafters to become involved, including cutting material, stuffing dolls or constructing packs.

People and businesses can also make tax deductible donations, or join the team to become ambassadors.

Three million Australians live in poverty, 731,000 of whom are children.

For more information about the charity and potential ways you can get involved, click here.

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