When Sheza Hasan came home earlier this week, she was surprised to find a mysterious box had been left on her front porch. When she opened it up, she found 25 handmade dolls made of fabric and sporting a variety of colourful outfits.
What made them truly special for Hasan was that they were all wearing hijabs, the head-covering worn by some Muslim women.
"It's not just any act of kindness. It's something someone really thought about and put the time and effort in," she said. "My kids were in awe; we've been talking about it for three days. They're amazed that someone would put so much energy into putting this together."
Hasan says she has no idea who gave her the dolls, but they know who she is. The box came with a card that said, "I noticed that dolls wearing hijabs seem hard to find. Not being part of the Muslim community myself, I'm not sure who to give them to, but I thought you might."
The note also said the dolls were made in a home with cats and thanked Hasan for "being a wonderful person."
Hasan uses "she" to describe this person but says for all she knows, it could be a man.
"If you look, the hijabs are removable for kids to play with. She's put in the effort to make the hair and the hijab goes on top," she said. "There's so much effort into designing this, different patterns and colours and designs ... They're all handmade, it was just really, really, touching."
Hasan says she and her sisters, all three of whom wear hijabs, never found dolls that they could identify with throughout their childhood.
"Growing up, we're seeing images out there in the community. The only time we see something in the media, it's usually negative ... so that's what Muslim kids growing up are bombarded with," she said. "Someone [went] out of their way to make a doll that girls can relate to and say, 'Our mom does this or somebody we know wears hijab.'"
After she posted photos of the dolls on Facebook, Hasan said she found many other people were touched by the gift in the same way she was.
"Everybody said this is so lovely, so kind. People had suggestions to take it forward. Everybody is like, 'I want it,' or 'I want it for my daughter.'"
Hasan says she's working on finding homes for the dolls in a space like a classroom or library.
"As opposed to giving it to one child, I'd like for them to reach a lot of kids," she said. "Even if a lot of kids can't play with it, as long as they can see it in a public sphere — where they can see a doll representing them, something they can identify with. That's the plan."
But she does plan on keeping one doll for herself.
"They're just so cute."