- Lauren learned the lesson from her mom when she was still very young that kids should play with toys that lets them imagine they are the star of the story.
- And so when she saw black kids at an orphanage playing light skinned dolls, she posted one single comment about how to donate black dolls.
- Many people agreed with her and 20 days later, black dolls were delivered to the orphanage through her efforts.
Lauren Stevens can still vividly remember the feeling of confusion watching her mom as a child putting away the Barbie dolls she received as birthday gifts.
“I remember thinking, ‘Well that’s so weird, why would she do that?’ ” Stevens, a Black woman from Texas, told PEOPLE. “And she just said, ‘It’s really important for kids to play with toys and have imaginations where you get to be the center of the story, and you don’t always have to see someone that doesn’t look like you being the hero or the princess.’ I’ve remembered that my entire upbringing.”
For years she didn’t forget that life lesson from her childhood and that’s exactly what she’s thinking when back in May, she saw an Instagram post of Black kids at an orphanage in Uganda called Masaka Kids, playing dolls with blonde hair and light skin — similar to those her mom tucked away.
So the 29-year-old State Farm recruiter from Richardson, Texas, voiced out her heart and 20 days later Black dolls were distributed to the girls in the orphanage bought from South Africa.
“How can we donate some brown-skinned dolls?” Lauren asked the orphanage and that’s how things started.
This initiative has inspired other people and many are expressing their willingness to donate for the cause.
It was also very timely because that happened during the time when many George Floyd protests were happening aside from the fact that it’s really a hard time for everyone amidst a pandemic.
“Well, maybe I shouldn’t go to Amazon, maybe I should try a small business,” she said when she was looking for a place to buy the dolls. That’s when she discovered Malaville Dolls — a company based in Cape Town which offers widely diverse dolls.
She spoke with the owner, Mala Bryan, and with her growing supporters online, the funding for the project was easily crowdsourced through Venmo or PayPal.
“People instantly started sending me money,” she said. “Like, the first person sent me $50, then one person sent me $100, then $25.” And soon enough she raised $1,000 to buy the black dolls and the remaining money she donated to the orphanage.
Lauren was amazed at how one comment on Instagram could accomplish so much! “It’s just kind of heartwarming, not only that the kids have something to brighten their day,” she said. “But also that there are just so many good people in the world.”