Company makes free 'Hug-A-Hero' dolls for kids whose parents are deployed

Company makes free 'Hug-A-Hero' dolls for kids whose parents are deployed

Growing up the son of a police officer, I can often remember worrying every time I saw my dad leave for work - concerned about his well-being on his shift. But the older I got, I can only imagine that worry and pain being a thousand-times harder for children of military parents who are deployed away from home.

Being apart from a parent for long periods of time can be terribly upsetting for children, but thanks to one North Carolina company, the transitions have become a little bit easier.

Watch the heartwarming moment this soldier returned home to surprise his five kids:

Daddy Dolls (who also do mom, sister, brother, aunt, uncle - all the family!) was started 15 years ago by Tricia Dyal and her friend Nikkie, with the purpose of helping ease the worries of children whose parents were deployed.

Dyal was inspired to create these after her aunt made a special daddy doll for her own daughter during a deployment. Dyal said:

"After seeing the amazing response from our own children, we realized that there were many children out there, not just military, that could use a doll of that special someone that was far away. Our children not only play with their Daddy Dolls, but also rely on them for strength during trying times like doctor’s visits or when they need an 'owie' kissed. Sometimes only that distant loved one will do! They have also become a part of story time and grocery shopping"

The Hug-A-Hero dolls feature a photo of the child's loved one on one side (uploaded to the site during the order process), and a complimentary fabric of choice on the other. Parents can also make a two-sided doll with images on both sides.

One product testimonial from Angela in Nevada reads: "

"I'm not sure who came up with the Hug A Hero doll idea, but I would like to thank them from the bottom of my heart. I am a single mother with a 2 year old son that I had to leave for a deployment. 

"I stumbled across the website and thought it would be a nice surprise for my son since he's old enough to understand that I am gone. From what I'm told, he carries his mommy doll to school and sleeps with it and if people ask about it, he says, "That's my mommy!!!  She went on an airplane".  It means a lot to me that he can have me at arm length even when I'm so far away. Thank you! [sic]"

Each doll usually costs $26.45, but the website also has the option for customers to sponsor a child, so kids in need can receive a free doll as part of their 'Give Back Program'.

The site states:

"If you are looking for a way to help us get more dolls into the hands of the kids who need them most, you're on the right page. It takes a village for sure, and every doll sponsored helps another child through tough times for years to come. [...]

"We are not a 501c3, but 100% of the profits from the sale of sponsored dolls goes back into our monthly give back program so we can continue to give away more dolls every month.  Thank YOU for helping US help the kiddos."

Non-military families can order as well for long-distance relatives, loved ones who have passed, or any reason you think your child could use a little personal comfort.

Each order takes approximately 1 to 3 weeks to complete, and the company asks for customers to allow for 3 to 4 days for Priority shipping.