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A Night Out With Dolls Will Provide A Future For At-Risk Girls

The Downriver Dolly Drive at Malarkey's will raise funding, awareness—and a stockpile of pretty dolls for the girls of Dearborn Heights nonprofit Vista Maria.

This week, dolls will serve a much greater purpose than just a pretty plaything in a little girl’s room. Instead, they’ll play an integral part in raising funds and awareness for Dearborn Heights nonprofit Vista Maria, which works to support, care for and educate vulnerable young girls in southeast Michigan.

The Downriver Dolly Drive will be held Thursday, March 14, at Malarkey’s in Southgate. Organized by Grosse Ile resident Lynn Quigley and Dearborn resident Patricia Pitts, the women—both of whom are Vista Maria board members —say they hope to educate attendees about the organization’s message.

“I had never heard of Vista Maria until I came to Ford Motor Company,” Quigley said. “So I know there are people like me who live here, who haven’t heard about it.”

She added that the event has taken place in Royal Oak before, and “we thought that it would bring people together in the downriver area.”

“This is a wonderful opportunity to introduce Vista Maria to a whole new area,” Pitts added. “It kind of piques your interest. Most women and girls like dolls.”

Kids are welcome to come—and attendees are encouraged to bring dolls, which will be given to girls who are part of Vista Maria’s programs. It’s a gift that may be larger than donors realize.

Vista Maria serves more than 1,000 children per year who have been abused, neglected and traumatized. They have treatment and therapy programs, as well as community-based services for emotionally challenged boys and girls in Michigan’s foster care system, and a transitional living program for young women.

Pitts and Quigley agreed that the tremendous work the organization does drew them to helping to support the cause.

“I was luck enough to have a happy childhood and to provide a happy childhood for my children,” Quigley shared. “I feel like what goes around comes around.”

And the Dolly Drive is a way to provide multiple levels of support to Vista Maria, from visibility for the programs to a gift for the girls.

“It’s surprisingly to me that so many of these girls have never had a doll in their life,” Pitts said. “It’s given to them with love.”

Love that they may not have known previously, Quigley added.

“One girl … said she saw her uncle shoot her dad,” she recalled. “When you hear the stories these girls have gone through—how could anyone do well in school? How could anyone have normal relationships?”

And for those who know that stories like these exist, Pitts and Quigley hope it will inspire other local women to help.

“My vision for women has been that we have a responsibility to help other women—particularly young girls,” Pitts said. “I would urge all women to think about that, and how blessed they’ve been.”

The Downriver Dolly Drive starts at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 14, at Malarkey's, located at 14980 Dix Toledo Road in Southgate. Advance tickets are $20, and are available through VistaMaria.org. Tickets at the door are $25, or $20 with the donation of a doll.

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