In the last decade, Denver-based Dolls for Daughters has helped thousands of underprivileged kids
In December 2007, Jessica Bachus was volunteering at the Denver Children’s Home holiday toy shop when she saw a woman pick up a doll the Bachus family had donated in honor of their daughter Kenzi, who had been stillborn almost a year earlier. “She was really excited she had something to give her own daughter,” she says. And for the first time in a year, Bachus cried tears of joy instead of sorrow.
“That year, I collected dolls for girls in our community, never thinking it would last for more than one holiday season,” says Bachus, who has three other children with her husband, Kyle. “But when Christmas came in 2008, I told my husband, ‘That was really fun—let’s do it again,’ and we collected between 500 and 600 dolls. After that, I knew this is what I wanted to do.”
Her nonprofit Dolls for Daughters has since helped provide 204,325 gifts to almost 36,000 kids from lower-income families. Last year, Dolls for Daughters and the group’s Toys for Boys program provided gifts for 8,983 kids in Denver, Fort Collins and Longmont.
“Because of our donors and volunteers, we’ve grown from serving a couple thousand kids the first year to 4,600 kids in Denver alone last year,” Bachus says. “The kids receive a new toy, a stocking stuffer, a book, a toothbrush and toothpaste and a LEGO set. The 400-person volunteer list filled up in a week, and about 20 people spent 48 hours waiting in line before the doors opened.”
Dolls for Daughters does other work, too: Its Kenzi’s Kidz program supports underprivileged families long term, and its Packz 4 Kidz program provides children with backpacks full of school supplies.
In honor of the nonprofit’s 10th anniversary— and what would have been Kenzi’s 10th birthday—Bachus hopes to serve 10,000 kids at toy shops and give out 1,000 full backpacks this year.
“My life has been so enriched by this work,” she says. “Two girls who were in our Kenzi’s Kidz program a couple years ago are getting ready to graduate from high school. They’re refugees and their mother died six years ago after giving birth to their youngest set of siblings. When they say that I’ve been like a mother to them and that, without the program, they wouldn’t be where they are today, it makes everything worth it.”
VISIT: Dolls for Daughters and Toys for Boys will be open December 2 at the National Western Complex.
DONATE: Dolls for Daughters accepts any new toys, but is in particular need of gifts for teenagers, including basketballs, footballs, skateboards, earbuds and makeup kits. All dropoff locations are listed at dollsfordaughters.com. Donate new backpacks, host a backpack drive or sponsor a backpack for Packz 4 Kidz.
VOLUNTEER: Check dollsfordaughters.com for information. Details for Packz 4 Kidz will be posted in August; registration for the toy shop will open in October.