To most people, a major earthquake that happened in February 2011 seems like old news. But for residents of Christchurch, New Zealand, particularly the children, normalcy has yet to return. Spring in the town of Christchurch used to mean daffodils and families traversing parks, but since the disaster, it takes more than sunshine to brighten the spirits of preschoolers whose lives were turned upside down.
Patsy Hill, a member of the Takapuna, New Zealand, Kiwanis Club, felt like everyone she met was shell-shocked by the disaster. Both as a devoted grandmother to young children and someone involved in a program that helps children who are grieving, she broadcasted a message for help.
Twelve clubs answered the call, and with Hill as the district’s project chairwoman, they began sewing and stuffing springtime trauma dolls made from floral fabrics. Three members of the Kiwanis Club of Takapuna drove more than 670 miles to Christchurch to distribute the 1,059 dolls—made by Kiwanians across the North Island, New Caledonia and Tahiti—to children in preschools, kindergartens and other child agencies.
“It was very moving to see the 'shine' in the eyes of children who had been so reserved when we had first arrived,” Hill recalls.
But they didn’t stop there. Keen to ensure the children and their families did not feel as if the world had forgotten them, Hill initiated another project: making tiny teddy bear finger puppets. Five clubs produced nearly 900 puppets that were distributed following the children’s return to school from summer break, along with clothing and blankets collected and made by other clubs.
“It has been so much fun seeing the delighted little faces of the children as they put on their puppets and compare with each other,” says Lynda Spittle of the North West Christchurch Kiwanis Club. “I actually think that the teachers were just as excited … On behalf of all the children who have received these and who will receive these, thank you all so much. The smiles on their faces are priceless.” —Courtney Meyer
Interested in a finger puppet project? Check out the puppet template online.