NORTON, Ohio — The whir and hum from helping hands were crafting and shaping creations with a purpose on Tuesday night.
"We are making Emma dolls, and as you can see, they all have blonde hair and are dressed in teal, because that's Emma's favorite color," said Jan Householder, founder of The Giving Doll.
The non-profit organization in Norton is making hand-sewn dolls in honor of Emma Pfouts, the 16-year-old Norton High School cheerleader who is battling back from brain injury after a severe asthma attack last October. Doctors at one point, had to place her in a medically-induced coma.
"We want to make enough to cover every day that Emma's been in the hospital," said Householder. "It might take us a year, but that's 93 dolls for 93 days so far."
The Giving Doll has donated dolls to children in crisis in every U.S. state and in 64 countries. In 15 years, volunteers have made 55,000 hand-sewn dolls.
"We celebrate 55,000, but you have to think that's 55,000 children who are going through a life crisis where they need the comfort of a doll."
The profound support in the community is not lost on Emma's family.
"We believe wholeheartedly, that that's gotten Emma to where she is now," said Christina Weigand, Emma's mother, adding that Emma defies doctors' expectations every day. "She's living proof of that. She's bubbly. And she's got her personality back today," Weigand said excitedly. "We didn't think to put down words, but we did, and she read it. Every single word that we put down, she read!"
One of those words was, "Emma."
Meanwhile, back at the doll workshop -- Something unexpected happened that made volunteers gasp. As one volunteer was adding stuffing to a doll, she noticed a random splotch on the fabric on the doll's chest.
It was shaped like a heart.
"It was like, I couldn't believe it!" said Householder.
Volunteers paused their sewing to share their theories explaining the heart's appearance.
"It's all the love that's going into that doll," said one volunteer, while another added, "It's for all the love everyone has for Emma. And it's showing the love right there."
If you like to donate to Emma's medical bills, you can head to any Huntington Bank branch to contribute to the Emma Pfouts benevolent fund.
If you'd like to donate your sewing skills, time, or supplies to The Giving Doll, you can reach them here.