Ms. Matheson is a Media Coordinator at Wesley Chapel Elementary School in North Carolina. “I feel it is important for our students to recognize how fortunate they are and that they can be helpful to others,” said Ms. Matheson. “Since they love to sew, I thought they should share their talents with others.” 

Over a dozen 4th grade students participated in the service-learning project Teaching Dolls. The Learning to Give lesson "Phil”-ing Good was used to motivate the students to action. After watching the video and reading the book from the lesson, Ms. Matheson help the students create a chart listing philanthropic acts and they “had an eye-opening experience”. The chart helped them to see, in writing, what kinds of philanthropic acts they could do and which acts they were already involved in.  

For their service-learning projects, the students decided to sew Teaching Dolls for a local Children's Hospital. Teaching dolls are used to explain procedures and surgeries to young children. After explaining the process for making the dolls, the students decided which part of the process they would help with such as cutting, sewing, turning, or stuffing. Each assignment allowed all students an opportunity to help move the project forward.  

Each Tuesday, the class worked and talked about the children who would receive the dolls. “The girls became more sensitive to what it would be like to be in the hospital facing scary situations,” said Matheson. In addition, they thought about the students in a special class in their school and they want to make dolls for these students.  

"You can make a difference (as a child), even a small difference can change a life,” said a student. 

The Learning to Give mini-grant provided fiberfill, fabric of various tones, thread, needles, pins, fabric scissors and pattern making material for the dolls. The hospital has very specific requirements for fabric and doll size, so having the appropriate materials ensured that the Teaching Dolls would be used by the patients at the Children's Hospital.  

Students reflected by saying, "This project is making me think of other projects that I could do,” and "My parents and I donate things to charity, but I like making something to share."  

Ms. Matheson plans to check with nursing homes and daycare centers to see if there is a need that her class could fill. “The students became aware that even as children they have a place in giving back to others,” said Ms. Matheson. The students were able to see how they could help others and make a difference in the lives of other children.