SOUTH PORTLAND — It all started because of hair too short and too fine to hold barrettes or ribbons.

When Caroline Davis was 3 years old, her mother, Robin Desjardins-Davis, looked for an alternative to the hair accessories that just would not stay in Caroline’s hair. So, she started decorating plain plastic headbands for her daughter to wear.

“They’re colorful and fun,” she said. “Not something you would traditionally find in most girls’ stores.”

For the past few years, the varied colors and patterns were just a way for Caroline to accessorize, but about a year ago, they took on a whole new purpose.

Caroline, now 7, suggested to her mother they make the headbands to sell and donate the money to help others. Desjardins-Davis said she was “blown away” and has since helped found “Helping Headbands by Caroline.”

“It is pretty remarkable for a not-quite 8-year-old kid to be thinking so far outside the box and about something other than material objects,” she said.

“I thought of it because it was sad to see people suffering,” Caroline said, having lost both her grandfathers to cancer and seeing both her grandmothers currently suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

In the past year, the mother-daughter team has been whipping up headbands using silk or grosgrain ribbon in various colors and patterns. The half-inch wide headband, selling for $8.50, and the 1-inch wide headbands, selling for $10.50, have been a great success.

This “fun” project has turned into about $700 to date. Last week, Caroline and her mother cut $350 checks to each the Alzheimer’s Association, Maine Chapter, and the Cancer Community Center.

“These two organizations were a perfect fit (for our donations),” Desjardins-Davis said.

“We could try to help in a small way and keep the spirit of her grandparents alive in her heart,” she added.

Sarah Stepp, Alzheimer’s Association, Maine Chapter’s manager of development and special events, echoed those sentiments.

“Anytime a community member, especially a young person, takes an interest in an organization, it’s always a wonderful thing. Particularly a little girl that wants to help her grandparents,” Stepp said.

The nonprofit organization relies nearly exclusively on community donations, so Stepp said Caroline’s efforts are a great help.

“What Caroline is doing is essential to our ability to continue to operate,” she said.

Caroline’s uncle, Paul Desjardins, has been selling the headbands at two Cardsmart locations. The Saco and Westbrook stores have a display with information about the headbands, which has been well-received by customers.

“(Customers) think they’re fabulous,” he said. “For a kid that age to come up with a concept like that. It’s pretty cool.”

Caroline is old enough to help her mother with assembly, and she enjoys picking out the ribbons and coordinating the colors and patterns. Her favorite right now is a blue and green plaid pattern.

“I just love the headbands,” she said, which have become her own personal trademark.

“(Her friends) have known her wearing (these headbands) since kindergarten,” Desjardins-Davis said.

“They think they’re cool,” Caroline said, adding that her friends have purchased some of their own styles to wear.

Something that started out as a way for Caroline to “feel more like a girl,” has turned into something much bigger with her thoughtfulness.

“It’s not a lot, but it’s starting someone kind of young to think about community,” Desjardins-Davis said. “I’m proud of her.”

 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: [email protected]