Laughter and squeals of excitement filled a day care center in Miami Gardens on Monday after another successful donation of baby and toy dolls courtesy of Zoe’s Dolls.
The organization was started three years ago by Zoe Terry, who is now 8, and her mother Nakia Bowling after Zoe told her mother that she didn’t see a lot of dolls for girls that represented African-Americans, Hispanics and other minority groups.
That thought turned into Zoe’s Dolls, which has collected and given out more than 1,000 dolls and continues to grow and gain more support.
Zoe’s school and the other groups have been supportive of Zoe’s dedication to giving back at a young age, her mother said. The young CEO smiled wide as she addressed about 15 toddlers and staff at the Love thy Kids Academy #2, 19713 NW 37th Ave., and thanked them for the chance to give away the dolls.
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“I give my dolls to little girls that look like you guys,” Zoe said to the children.
Terry and her small staff, including her “friendmager” (friend and manager) 8-year-old Eryn Mayo, place donation boxes across Miami Gardens, North Miami and the city of Miami at churches, barbershops and her school — Miami Country Day.
Bowling said the boxes, brightly colored and adorned with Terry’s mission statement, haven’t ever been significantly damaged or vandalized and they haven’t had any donations stolen.
“People have been very respectful and very supportive and most of the organizations let us know if the boxes get damaged or torn up,” Bowling said.
Her mother said she’s grateful to see Zoe develop the plan and for the support they’ve received because her daughter has faced challenges from a young age.
“She had a stroke at the age of 2 and it still affects her today,” Bowling said. “She has gone through so much but she refuses to give up.”
Zoe’s organization currently operates as a nonprofit with support from the What’s Next Global organization, which helps her donate dolls in Lusaka, Zambia. She also ships toys to children in Haiti, Dallas and Atlanta.
Zoe hopes to one day create a line of dolls for minority children and build on the success she’s had and smiles she’s delivered to more than a thousand children.