Neely Traditional Academy’s hand-made dolls bring comfort and joy

Comfort dolls created by the lunch-time knitting club.

Two days a week,  Neely Traditional Academy teacher Brenda Koerselman gives up her lunch hour to teach knitting to eight to 12 students.

“This is part of my community outreach,” she says. “We relax as we knit and create many useful items to share with those less fortunate.”

Cindy Jarvis with some of the Ugandan orphans who received comfort dolls.

That outreach went global in April, when Koerselman’s friend Cindy Jarvis went on a trip to Africa in April with Hope 4 Kids International. The knitting club sent 12 dolls with her to be distributed at a Ugandan orphanage.

Each of the comfort dolls was specially crafted, and the knitters put a lot of time and care into personalizing their dolls. As the dolls were distributed, Jarvis took photos of each child who received a doll. When Jarvis returned home, Koerselman printed a copy of the photo for each knitter, showing their comfort doll in the hands of its new owner.

Neely Traditional Academy is located at 321 West Juniper Ave. in Gilbert.

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