March 30, 2020
Bommai pajar, translated from Tamil into English as “doll festival,” refers to an annual event held in India. Also known as Bommai Golu or Navaratri, it’s a nine-day Hindu celebration using dolls to tell the story of how the gods defeated the evil demon Mahishasura to set the cosmos to rights.
When I was a child visiting my family in India in 1988, I knew nothing about the pagan festival, other than the fact that homes everywhere set up doll displays and invited their friends and family to view their doll collections. The more impressive, the better. I had all my Barbie dolls with me, but no one had ever seen them before. Ironically, it was just a few months after my arrival when the dolls made their debut in India, upon which I received the My First Barbie Doll as a gift from one of my uncles.
But until then, I was excited to have my own doll exhibit and take part in what I mistakenly thought was “doll bazaar” until I learned what the actual words really were! I took out my Barbie lounge chairs and whatever other accessories I had, and posed my dolls in their best attire, much to the delight of everyone who came to view them. My only regret is in not having a single photo to commemorate that occasion.
Although I never did celebrate bommai pajar again, I returned to India for Christmas of 1993, during which time I was gifted the Barbie in India doll, a blonde “American” decked out in a red saree and matching dupatta, bangles, earrings, sandals, and even a red pottu (aka the forehead “dot”).
In the years since, Barbie dolls in India have evolved into some of the prettiest Asian styles I’ve ever seen, such as the India Barbie Princess Dolls of the World Barbie Collection, Diwali Barbie, and Barbie Visits Hawa Mahal. It’s nice to know that the doll continues to be relevant to girls today, no matter where they are in the world. You can view the full Mattel collection here. It's fun to be a Barbie girl! ☺️❤️😏
December 22, 2019
We have been blessed with so many wonderful donations I've been able to send to the shelter here in town that benefits the families of domestic abuse. It really makes me joyful to have so much to share with others, and it's all because of YOUR generosity! Special thanks to everyone who reached out this year to show their support, especially Kay, Susan, Cynthia, Jade, and Lisa. I've still got more dolls to dress and I anticipate continuing to donate dolls for some time to come. We've now donated close to 200 dolls in this month alone! I may have to start staggering the donations so they don't get backlogged at the shelter - so in the meantime, if anyone knows of any needy families who could use some dolls, by all means contact us and we will send them some!
Thanks again everyone, and I look forward to what 2020 holds! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from my family to yours,
November 26, 2019
We have a lot to be thankful about lately. So many wonderful doll and clothing donations, and more on the way! We couldn't be happier, because we know that dolls play such an important role in childhood development and self-esteem. Without being given the chance to BE little girls before women, many girls are stuck between being grown up before they are ready, which can ultimately lead to relationship problems later in life. Play therapy can help them act out who they are or want to be, resolve conflicts, and express their individual sense of style, affection, and creativity.
When I was a kid, my Barbies went everywhere with me - even halfway across the world to a land that hadn't even seen Barbie dolls before then! My adventures were numerous and extensive...from digging a grotto complete with a cascading water source so the dolls could lounge in the sun while enjoying a tropical paradise, to setting up elaborate "rooms" for a home doll tour I participated in with the neighbors (as a type of pommai bazaar, I believe it was called), my collection brought me hours of enjoyment whether I was at home or on the go. For the most part, I didn't have accessories, just dolls and some clothes. Over the years, I did accumulate a lot of extras, and eventually had the three story Barbie townhouse with the "elevator." To furnish it, I often used whatever I had on-hand: a wood scrap I painted with some leftover paint-by-number paint and balanced it atop an empty box to look like a dining room table, and I knitted granny squares as throw rugs and blankets, and hand sewed pillows for the beds. Beads, pom-poms, and yarn made great-looking food in bowls, and sometimes I'd even add a little water to flour and have the dolls "mix up" batter in their wind-up kitchen beater.
Girls today need the ability to explore their talents aside from in the classroom, and playing with Barbie dolls can help that happen! The possibilities are endless.As a writer, so much of what I acted out with my dolls formed the basis for plots I later made into stories or even song lyrics. Overall, I'm glad I got to play outside, too, because that meant I could integrate doll play into every aspect of what I was doing, and I'm just sorry social media didn't exist back then, or else I probably would have lots of cool and unique photos and videos to share of all those times!
It warms my heart to know that so many girls this season are going to get their very own Barbie! I can't wait to see how many we end up receiving by year-end. We will keep you posted through blogs, videos (like the one below), and social media! Thanks for being a part of another exciting year of Barbie gifting :-)
August 1, 2019
Conquering the Summertime Blues
What a difference a year makes! So much has occurred since my last blog, with a lot of downtime to make up for! Let me explain.
Sadly, we lost a valuable contact earlier this year with Child Advocates, Inc. Our friend Nikita Garner unexpectedly passed away in June, so we have yet to know how and if the toy drive will be happening this Christmas season. From what I understand, last year's toy drive was done very differently than in the past, in order to provide the children in their system with a variety of necessities, and not just toys. Enough funds were donated so that their needs were met, but I don't have the data on what that looked like because we were not involved in it this time around.
Additionally, we held back from doing much of anything, mainly because of some family health issues and the fact that we were stuck in trying to decide on if we wanted to have a PO Box for donations. Plus, I was scrambling around trying to find places who would want our donations. As silly as that sounds, you'd be surprised how many organizations actually don't want toys because they already get plenty, or have monetary donations they apply for the purchase of toys, and and what they lack tends to be in other areas (like furniture, clothing, appliances, etc.). While all that is important, we lack our own resources and space to collect and gift those kinds of items. I've spent the better part of this year trying to regroup, until the answer was right in front of my face all along!
Until we find out about any other specific needs, we will be turning our attention to donating Barbie dolls to children who are victims of domestic violence. It is a cause that is near and dear to my heart, and is in fact the reason why Barbie dolls mean as much to me as they have from the time I held my first Barbie doll (it was Day-to-Night Barbie, as I recall) when I was six years old. The doll helped me cope in times of uncertainty; I was able to find my self-worth, make goals, and have hope in greater things to come. That is exactly what I want for little girls everywhere, and especially those who receive help from The Julian Center here in my city. And because I've assisted them in the past, I know that there is unfortunately no shortage of people who remain in need. Family brokenness is everywhere, and overlaps into all the other organizations we support, the neighborhoods we live near, and the community at large. All the better if I can help in any way to influence young girls to make the right choices as adults so the cycle of violence ends with them. And if these girls have brothers, I want to collect toys for them as well, because they are just as important to support so they don't act out as adults. Truly, no child should ever feel forgotten or as an afterthought, and it's often because they do feel unimportant that they tend to harm themselves or others. But together, we all can raise up today's generation of kids so they can improve the lives they touch.
My plan is to donate to the shelter on a regular basis, and am actively seeking donations of Barbie dolls and toys. If you are interested to help, please Contact us today! (NOTE: Please read the updated FAQ section first)
January 1, 2018
Happy New Year!
While I did receive a lot of donated Barbies in 2017, which I turned over to Child Advocates for distribution, we weren't able to participate in this year's toy drive as in previous years - mainly due to my holiday schedule making it near impossible to coordinate with their plans. Moreover, the warehouse they were using for gift storage hadn't been accessible, so that a good part of season when they normally were making finalized plans was spent trying to find another one. They eventually did, and not only were there generous donors who purchased and dropped off wish list items for one or more child by sponsoring a child/family, but monetary donations enabled staffers to purchase plenty of wish list items for each child as well. While I don't yet know the total number of gifts received as yet, I will update this blog when I do! Many thanks to those of you who continue to ask how you can be part of our progress and we look forward to what 2018 has in store for us all!
June 21, 2017
What's New with The Barbie Girls Project?
It's been an interesting year so far. In addition to changes in my professional career, I embarked on a new journey by the release of my debut fiction novel series: The Ellises, Book One: A Place to Call Home with Rebel Ink Press. The series, inspired by my love of literature and culture, was my go-to writing project for years, and I have much to owe my writing mentor and former Washington Township educator, the late Mrs. Lois Poteet, who sadly passed away a year before I could finalize book 1 for publication. However, I am blessed to have her artwork gracing the book's cover, so that a piece of her remains with me.
As you could imagine, getting the book ready for publication has been my main focus - but of course I've also been thinking of what comes next for The Barbie Girls Project. Certainly, we want to continue helping Child Advocates again this Christmas season, if we are still needed. Given the stellar year they had, they might not! And if that's the case, we are happy to move on to focus on other foundling or lesser-known organizations who could use our "girl power" resources. Our current problem rests with not having a physical address for toy donations, as we previously offered with Sylvan Learning Center. And quite frequently throughout the year, I receive emails from people who wish to donate used Barbie dolls to us - and at the moment, I don't have the space nor the immediate need for them (unless we plan to do another virtual doll sale yet this year to raise funds for an organization or event).
Overall, there are a lot of children who live in Central Indiana - encompassing the city of Indianapolis and its suburbs. Many of the poorest families already receive assistance through several charitable entities; moreover, not all of these families accept gifts for holidays (as well as birthdays) for religious reasons. It then becomes the issue of simply providing toys for ALL children, just because. All children are special, and toys are an integral part of their development. On that note, we'd like to explore some new ideas, and we welcome any and all of your suggestions on how we can reach children in need throughout the year! Feel free to email us at email@example.com.
January 15, 2017
Congratulations on Another Spectacular Year!
We are so happy in knowing that Child Advocates, Inc. was able to collect over 15,000 toys during the toy drive! What an amazing group of volunteers, donors, and community we have! That means ALL of the children in the foster care system who are represented by Court-Appointed Child Advocates have received toys for Christmas!!!! With such a great response, Indianapolis has proven that it can take care of its local community, and that makes us so proud of the organizations with whom we partnered. So thank you to all who helped spread the word, and donated your time and money to the cause. You can read the Child Advocates, Inc. blog here.
December 22, 2016
Updates from the Holiday Toy Drive
The numbers aren't yet in on how many children will receive toys for Christmas, but from all indicators thus far, this year's toy drive was another success! There were several highlights of the season to report:
- We established a partnership with The Advancement Center - to help promote the event and serve as an advance drop-off site. They were very eager to help spread the word, and many generous donations were received.
- The Girl Scouts of Central Indiana continued to be a valuable asset for promoting the toy drive.
- Sylvan Learning Center North Indianapolis was once again instrumental as an advance drop-off site. We appreciate all their assistance in collecting and greeting members of the community who dropped off donations during and even after the dates of the toy drive! We bid Sylvan a fond goodbye, as their franchise locations in the Indianapolis area have merged with the Northern Indiana network of Sylvan centers.
- Over $60 was raised from the sale of Barbie dolls donated to us earlier in the year, which we used to purchase new-in-box toys for girls and boys for the toy drive.
- The remaining 3 dozen donations of Barbie dolls were gifted to needy girls at a local shelter here in town thanks to a new and unexpected partnership established with Grace Church. Many thanks for helping make that happen so easily!
Once we have the final results, I will post them, as well as photos, for you to see! Until then, thanks everyone for helping make the season bright for children who need it most!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!
October 31, 2016
The 2016 Holiday Toy Drive Has Begun!
We are so pleased and excited to announce that the Child Advocates Inc. toy drive starts today and runs through November 30th. The Community-Wide Collection Day Event will be on Saturday, December 3rd.
There are 3 great ways you can be of help!
- Collect and donate toys for ages 0-14 or gift cards for 14-18.
- Contact Nikita Garner to receive a wish-list for a child or sibling group (firstname.lastname@example.org or (317) 493-2227).
- Make a monetary donation directly to Child Advocates Inc. (through Nikita) OR if you live in the Indy area and want to help The Barbie Girls Projects' efforts, you can participate in my virtual garage sale for Barbies and what I earn through those sales goes toward the purchase of new toys for the toy drive. Drop me a line if you wish to purchase Barbies.
Whichever way you would like to help, we appreciate your donations! 2 advance drop-off locations are available for unwrapped TOYS ONLY at the following locations and times today through November 30th:
Sylvan Learning Center North Indianapolis
8450 Westfield Boulevard, Suite 210, Indianapolis, IN 46240
Monday-Thursday 10 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Friday 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Saturday 9:30 a.m. - 11 a.m.
Advancement Center for Washington Township Schools (H. Dean Evans Community Education Center Building)
8550 Woodfield Crossing Boulevard, Indianapolis, IN 46240
Monday-Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Suggested Giving for Toys and Gift Cards
For Girls: Barbie clothing sets, arts and crafts sets, baby dolls, bike
For Boys: skateboards, Nerf items, action figures, bike
Gift Cards: Target, Walmart, Aeropostale, fast food restaurants
What's the Collection Day Event?
Last year, the Pillow Logistics Warehouse generously donated the use of their space for housing all toys received so that Child Advocates volunteers and staff were able to sort and allocate gifts to the foster families. During the event, members of the community were allowed to come to the facility to drop off toys throughout the day if they were not able to drop off donations at the designated advance locations. This year, the warehouse will still be used, but has a new address, and will ONLY include Child Advocates Inc. employees for Saturday, December 3rd, as well as Monday, December 5th, and Tuesday, December 6th, 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. all 3 days.
The Pillow Logistics Warehouse is located at:
5150 West 76th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46268.
October 2, 2016
Virtual Garage Sale In Progress
It’s almost toy drive season again! Although we’ve not received the official word on the particulars of this year’s event as yet, we are doing all that we can to be ready! A great big thanks to all who sent in doll donations this year from all over the world!!! It has been amazing to receive dolls and their vast number of accessories. However, at this time, because we are trying to prepare for the toy drive, we have to go forward with collecting much more than just Barbies – that way, even boys can benefit from receiving toys, too. I want to definitely thank all the lovely ladies who sent us boxes, and because of YOU we can do what we are launching for the month of October: a virtual garage sale for Barbie dolls held in our local vicinity. That way, the dolls are still being used by girls who could need them, plus we are receiving money for them that can be used towards the purchase of brand new toys for girls and boys for the toy drive! I’d say that’s a win-win situation!
Keep in mind, if you would like to help The Barbie Girls Project, please read our homepage description before submitting an inquiry to us. That way, we can be sure to have your donation can be best matched to what we are currently doing. While we USED TO solely collect Barbie dolls and accessories as our means of passing them on to local shelters and places where there are girls who could use them, we expanded our cause last year to Mattel brand toy collections for girls and boys in need so that we could donate toys and cash to the Indianapolis chapter of Child Advocates, Inc. The best way to accomplish this is by the sale of the donated dolls, where 100% of the proceeds are being put right back into the toy drive as the means to purchase brand new toys for the children in foster care. Unfortunately, any of the girls in that demographic cannot use these dolls as part of the toy drive itself, because of the stipulation of presents received needing to be new-in-box. Some of these children may otherwise not have received any new presents of any kind all year. The toy drive, then, is a way to help them feel special. It’s such a great feeling to be of help in that way, and we truly were blessed last year in being part of what turned out to be a banner-year of donations for Child Advocates!
To keep apprised of how the sale is going, check back on our Facebook page and Twitter feed for real-time updates and totals. Feel free to send us your comments or questions, and if you live in the Indianapolis area, contact us to help out our virtual garage sale!
March 6, 2016
Homeless Girls Are in Need
Our newest campaign is to help supply homeless young girls with feminine products and undergarments. Together along with other groups devoted to this cause, TBGP is collecting such items as sanitary pads, tampons, panty liners, feminine wipes, bras, and underwear to girls who need them. Contact us if you would like to find out more information on ways you can join us in this worthy cause.
January 14, 2016
Helping in All Seasons
Helping children in need shouldn't have to be limited to the Christmas season. Every day, children in need face challenges at home and school. And when things go wrong at the hands of the people who are caring for them, they often have no hope, no help, and no future until someone or something intervenes. Otherwise, those same children are the ones who grow up to repeat the cycle.
But that's where all of us can do something!!!
By donating time, funds, or resources to provide children with: 1). shelter 2). adequate housing and care, 3). necessities, 4). schooling & medical care, and 5). friendship, we can help shape today's youth into the tomorrow's leaders and achievers, not the next crime news lead.
Places like Indy CASA, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and United Way are just some of the many organizations devoted to youth services. Churches, schools, and even non-youth-related businesses are teaming up to volunteer in whatever ways they can. The saying "it takes a village" holds true; by working together, all are able to help children from all walks of life. This means in any season, any day of the week, and any age. Things like poverty, abuse, and neglect have no boundaries, and can happen at any time!
So the next time you are looking to help children in need, start with the places nearest (or dearest to) you. Your neighborhood. People in your place of worship, school, or work. Keep your ears and eyes open to know of the needs all around you - because chances are, there is always someone who needs something, without you even being aware! And when you help, something amazing will begin to happen. What started as a small neighborhood endeavor might lead to a wider reach as you go, until you find yourself connected to enough people and resources that you are able to accomplish way more than you ever thought possible.
Find a need on VolunteerMatch today!