FROM little things, big things come.
A Medowie mum of three young daughters, Maryann Webb, is spearheading a major drive to provide hand-made dolls to children in need, particularly victims of domestic violence or those from a disadvantaged socioeconomic situation.
Webb is the founder and managing director of Project KIN (Kids In Need), which has been providing gifts with a hand-made doll, children's book and Christian-themed activity booklet, to underprivileged children for two years. So far, with the help of hundreds of volunteers, they have provided more than 650 packs - each with a unique doll sewn, knitted or crocheted by a volunteer.
The group is holding a Project KIN sewing bee on Wednesday, August 21, at The Greenhouse restaurant and event centre at Pacific Dunes at Medowie, in the hope of pushing the project to the next level of participation.
"Three years ago I was helping my eldest daughter get to sleep," Webb says, describing the origin of the concept. "I was settling her with a cuddly toy, yet it would take a good hour or more . . . I started thinking of other children. Anxious sleepers who might not have mum or dad. Or maybe they didn't have those resources . . ."
Webb went further, looking for statistics on children in need. She found figures estimating more than 700,000 children in Australia are living in poverty.
"My teaching background and love of sewing sparked this idea," she says, "to get some high quality learning and play, to try and make a difference, not for just one night, with play and an activity pack, to get some value in it, and some hope, and change their future."
Webb started the program while living in Sydney, but she and her husband moved to Medowie last year and she has operated the project from a shed on their property.
The project had its Hunter launch on July 31 at The Greenhouse, and recently donated 50 'Play and Learn' packs to the Salvation Army in Raymond Terrace with the assistance of the Raymond Terrace Rotary Club.
"We are trying to give them inner worth," Webb says of the intention of giving dolls and books to children in need. "We are trying to break the cycle of disadvantage. It's not only education and play, but promoting self worth and feeling self worth, in a more emotional sense."
The book that comes in the pack is titled Imagine If You Had A Friend. The first page offers notes for parents and carers on sharing books with young children, encouragement on bonding by reading and talking with a child about book. There is a guide to talking about the book and related fun activities in the back of it.
Webb is keen to grow the size of the volunteer group so the project can increase its gifting of dolls and books.
She readily acknowledges the Christian emphasis of the activity book, but says using it is optional.
"We are really open about that," she says. "We are not trying to hide that. Parents can ditch that resource."
Webb is clear: "The packs go to children, regardless of what they are. We are inclusive of everyone."
Interested people can find out more through the organisation's Facebook page (it is open Australia-wide and sewing patterns can be sent to volunteers) or website (projectkin.org).
Or make contact by calling the organisation on 0421 849 053.