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Students sew what they can do

Students at Northeast High School learned how to sew dolls to donate to the Salvation Army.

Helping your neighbor: Marsha Rosenthal’s art class at Northeast High School sewed dolls that will be donationed will be donated to the Salvation Army. JOHN COLE / TIMES PHOTO

The ability to learn something new and give comfort to those in need is priceless.

Students in Marsha Rosenthal’s art class at Northeast High School “sewed” me that.

It was October 2017, and students in Rosenthal’s class were just completing posters for an art contest. The theme for that contest? Helping your neighbor.

She mentioned the class spent a great deal of time talking about the hurricane victims in 2017 and this struck a chord with the class.

“So after reviewing all about people that are displaced and homeless, we decided that there’s something that we can do for area people here in Philadelphia that are displaced,” said Rosenthal.


Rosenthal, alum of Northeast High, has taught art for 21 years in the School District of Philadelphia. She has had her students do a variety of projects over the years, but thought of one particularly that the students could do to give comfort to those in need. Sew dolls.

While she was a teacher at Fels, she had her class make and sew dolls that were donated to an orphanage in Uganda.

“I wanted them to learn how to sew and I wanted them to have a reason to do it,” said Rosenthal. “More than just like getting a grade.”

Fast forward some years down the line and she saw this as another teachable moment and an opportunity to do some good for the community.

Out of Rosenthal’s approximate 165 students in her art classes, only about five knew how to sew. Rosenthal was going to change that.


“This is a great skill they can have for the rest of their life,” said Rosenthal.

The students started from scratch learning with sample sheets and doing the basics. About 3½ weeks later, the students had made their own dolls/bears to be donated.

Sophomore DaeQuan Young enjoyed the opportunity to help those in need.

“I tried to make it look neat and perfect,” said Young.

He previously did not know how to sew, but this lesson is one he will not forget.

“It was worth it, though, it wasn’t easy, but I got it done,” said Young.

Students were creative with their dolls and put their own personal touches on them. Rosenthal was so impressed that she even took four of them and submitted them to the school district’s art contest.

“I was surprised how invested they were into it, like making clothes and really struggling through the problems knowing that they were going to give these away.”

Rosenthal says she will donate the 150-plus dolls to the Salvation Army. ••

John Cole can be reached at JCole@bsmphilly.com

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