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Girl Scout works toward Gold Award by sewing dolls for Primary Children’s Hospital

The dolls are meant to comfort patients

Savannah Tary, a Park City Girl Scout, is surrounded by hand-sewn dolls she made to donate to Primary Children’s Hospital. Tary is making 500 dolls to earn her Gold Award, the highest honor in Girl Scouts.
Courtesy of Savannah Tary

Park City Girl Scout Savannah Tary is on track to sew 500 medical play dolls that she will donate to Primary Children’s Hospital.

“I’m currently at 300, and I took a little break because school started,” said Tary, a sophomore at Park City High School. “I am getting ready to start up again.”

Making the dolls, which are designed to teach young hospital patients human anatomy, is Tary’s project for her Gold Award, which is the highest honor a Girl Scout can achieve.



The award, which was given to only a handful of Girl Scouts in Utah last year, is equivalent to the Eagle Scout rank in Boy Scouts, said Tary’s mentor Erin Hesser, outreach coordinator for Westgate Resorts, which is donating the material for project.

Tary is a Juliette Girl Scout, which means she is registered with the organization but doesn’t belong to an assigned troop. So instead of attending meetings for guidance, she works with an adult mentor.



“There are a lot of people who know about the Eagle Scout, but don’t know about the Gold Award,” Hesser said. “This award, like the Eagle, is recognized by colleges and universities, and looks great on resumes. So this project Savannah is doing is a great way to educate the public about the award.”

Tary came up with the idea of sewing the dolls after her 6-year-old cousin had a minor surgery.

“I saw how scared he was, so I did some research about how to reduce the anxiety of kids who are in the hospital,” she said. “The first thing that came up were medical play dolls.”

Not only do the play dolls teach human anatomy, they help children feel more comfortable while they are in the hospital and cope with health care in the future, Tary said.

“I contacted Primary Children’s Hospital about the dolls and they told me that there was a huge need, because not a lot of people donate them,” she said. “They gave me a pattern, and that’s how the project started.”

Tary committed herself to making 500 dolls, and began sewing in June.

“I sew two to five dolls a day, and worked pretty much nonstop,” she said. “I did take a few breaks for lunch and when friends would come over.”

Westgate donated bedsheets and coffee that Tary uses to make the dolls.

“I talked with Erin and she arranged to get me old bedsheets that I can make the dolls from, and the coffee is used to dye the dolls different skin colors,” said Tary, who wants to become a cardiologist.

In addition, Tary created an Amazon wishlist for polyfill and magic markers.

“We stuff the dolls with polyfill, and I will donate the markers to the hospital so kids can draw on their dolls,” she said.

One of the key elements of earning a Gold Award is making sure any proposed project is sustainable, so Tary contacted Diana Rodrigues, Treasure Mountain Junior High School’s eighth-grade home economics teacher for help.

A vehicle is filled with hand-sewn dolls made by Girl Scout Savannah Tary. She plans to donate the dolls to Primary Children’s Hospital. Tary sews two to five dolls a day, and her goal is to make 500.
Photo by Erin Hesser

“They will continue making the dolls and donating them to the hospital after I step away from the project,” Tary said. “The teacher will take 75 to 100 dolls to the hospital at the end of each semester.”

Westgate is honored to be involved with Tary’s project, Hesser said.

“I first got involved by being a sounding board for Savannah to bounce ideas off of, and as the project evolved, it became a way for Westgate to give back to the community,” Hesser said. “I knew we had a lot of sheets we couldn’t put on beds anymore, and we had some coffee that we could give Savannah.”

Hesser enjoys working with Tary, and the two have collaborated on other community projects, she said.

“One of the biggest projects she has done is packaging up Thanksgiving meals Westgate chefs cook for those that need them in Salt Lake,” Hesser said. “And this is only one of many others, because any time we have a project come up, Savannah will be the first one with her hand raised.”

Tary, in turn, enjoys collaborating with Hesser on the different projects.

“She has been a great person to work with, and she’s helped me out with everything,” Tary said.

Earning the Girl Scout Gold Award has been a longtime goal for Tary, who moved to Park City from Las Vegas three years ago.

“It feels amazing to know that I’ve come this far to achieve what I’ve wanted since I was little,” she said. “Working on this project has also inspired me to get involved with other philanthropic projects in the future.”


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