A New York Girl Scout is giving hundreds of kids the chance to play with a childhood staple, the American Girl doll, by creating a lending program for the dolls at local libraries.
Olivia Reduto, 14, of Edgemont, New York, spent the past year raising nearly $800 so she could purchase six American Girl dolls and accessories for the dolls.
Olivia, a ninth-grader who has been in the Girl Scouts since the first-grade, then donated two dolls each to three libraries within the Yonkers Public Library system just north of New York City.
The dolls, which can be checked out for a three-week period, already have a waiting list after being introduced this fall.
“It’s been overwhelming,” Tara Somersall, head of children’s services at Riverfront Library in Yonkers, said of the response. “One girl who checked a doll out from us last week, she left here skipping.”
Somersall added of the appeal, “Because American Girl dolls come in different ethnicities, looking at these dolls, a lot of little girls can relate to them.”
Olivia studied the demographics of each individual library in order to make sure each American Girl doll she donated was a doll the library’s patrons could identify with. American Girl dolls come with their books to explain their life story and represent a variety of backgrounds and historical eras.
“I have three main points of my project,” said Olivia, who earned a Girl Scouts’ Silver Award for the project. “One is diversity, one is to get kids excited about history and reading and one is about income inequality.”
She continued, “So I chose different types of dolls from different cultures and ones that had a certain history and certain years and worked with the library to pick them out.”
Olivia was inspired after reading an article about the Ottendorfer branch of the New York Public Library, which has been lending American Girl dolls for several years.
She held tea parties for younger Girl Scouts and worked at a Girl Scouts tag sale to raise money. Most American Girl dolls sell for more than $100, with accessories costing even more.
After Olivia had enough money raised to purchase the dolls, she went on a shopping spree at the American Girl flagship store in New York City. Olivia's mom, Tina Reduto, also won a raffle through the store for a free American Girl doll that they are donating to a fourth local library.
American Girl has no official doll lending program for libraries but supports the individual efforts by people like Olivia, the company told ABC News.
“Children have been checking out American Girl books and reading about the adventures of their favorite characters from long ago and today for more than 30 years at their local libraries,” the company said in a statement. “It’s thrilling to see the growing number of libraries that are now adding American Girl dolls to their lending collections as well. Libraries encourage a lifelong love of reading, curiosity, and learning, so we’re proud that our American Girl dolls and books can be a part of these efforts.”
Somersall, of the Riverfront Library, said the library, which represents a lower income area, would not have been able to provide their patrons with American Girl dolls without Olivia's help.
"One mom said she couldn’t believe it because, otherwise, she wouldn’t have been able to afford [a doll] for her daughter," Somersall said. "Just to have the dolls now along with the books, the caregiver can go home and have background to share about the doll and it encourages the kids to read, too."