Michigan veteran launches doll company to comfort children of military members and first responders

Posted at 11:22 AM, Jan 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-13 11:25:58-05

(WXYZ) — As many search for the silver linings in the sadness, one local police officer, who is also a military veteran, is looking to bring comfort to children through special dolls created in the likeness of a loved one.

Samantha Vargas of Belleville said her company, Hearts + Heroes, has been years in the making. While she and her husband served in the military, Vargas said they were looking for a comfort piece to give to their kids to help them through the times when they were away. But Vargas and her husband were surprised at what they found.

“The teddy bear is nice, but it doesn’t really represent us,” said Vargas, noting that she saw teddy bears wearing pink bow-ties and others brandishing weapons. “In reality, that’s not what we do.”

Frustrated with the lack of options, Vargas set her mind on a new mission: to create dolls that mimicked a parent or a loved one who were in the military or first responders.

“Most of the plush stuffed dolls, they are teddy bears, some type of character, this is actually a person 16-inch plush doll,” said Vargas.

Vargas launched a Kickstarter Wednesday morning to help get her business off the ground. Customers can purchase a doll through the platform, which also allows for donations toward the business. Other backers who give at least $20 will receive a Hearts +Heroes Challenge Coin. Each doll costs $45 with a planned ship date of April if Vargas reaches her goal. The Kickstarter goal is $3,600 and it closes on January 29.

To start, Vargas said Hearts + Heroes will offer dolls with three different skin tones and three different hair colors, representing either a police officer, firefighter, soldier, Marine, airman, sailor, nurse or doctor. The plan, she said, is to expand the options later and even offer custom creations for people.

With the launch of her company, Vargas also plans to go a step further in providing comfort.

She said five percent of every doll purchase will go toward her Hearts + Heroes project, where custom dolls will be given to children at the end of the year who have lost a parent in the line of duty.

That part of the project, Vargas said, was inspired by her former partner who died in a tragic accident that occurred in 2018. Vargas said he was a single dad to a 3-year-old girl.

“There hasn’t been one day when I don’t think about his daughter,” she said. “I can’t bring the parent back for those children, but I’m going to do my best to help them remember their parent.”

With the current state of our nation and the pandemic, Vargas said she feels like now is a good time to launch her project.

“It’s important to me right now, because with the pandemic, and with everything going on, there is so much negativity out there,” she said. “Right now, it seems like there is a bad light on all of us . . . we are parents, we are brothers and sisters . . . we need to bring some positivity to that.”

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Instagram: @heartsandheroesus

Facebook: @heartsandheroes

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