Love them or hate them, I’ll bet you have (or if you’re lucky, “had”) a truckload of stuffed animals in your house. When my daughter was born I was warned about the amount of stuffed animals that would invade our home without even trying. Showers, birthdays, holidays, souvenirs on vacations – they just…kept…coming. At one point they were multiplying so fast I swore they had to be breeding overnight. For years they have been piling up in the corner taking up space…a lot of it. And then suddenly this week, my baby girl passed a critical milestone of childhood…a right of passage, if you will. She decided she no longer wanted all those plush little bundles of softness cluttering up her room anymore. (Well…most of them anyway.)
Six whole trash bags full of potential “Velveteen Rabbits” that were hugged once or twice and then cast aside. It seems so tragic to just throw them all away. They deserve some love before they are put out to pasture. Goodwill and Salvation Army can’t accept them. So what do I do with them?
I found a few places locally that may apply to your hometown, too. Just be sure to make a few phone calls to confirm first.
Police and/or Fire Stations – All too often, officers and firemen go out on calls and find children are the unfortunate victims. Perhaps their house has burned down and their favorite lovey didn’t make it out with the rest of the family. Situations of abuse or neglect may require an officer to remove a child from their home with no time to gather any personal belongings. For just such occasions, first responders like to keep stuffed animals in their vehicles to help comfort a child and give them something to hold on to in the trying times ahead.
Family Services – If a responding officer doesn’t have a new lovey for a child about to enter protective services, then the representative assigned to their case at Family Services could have one for them. Homeless shelters, battered women’s shelters or senior centers might also receive donations of stuffed animals. Again, be sure to call and check before showing up with armfuls of fur.
Ronald McDonald House – I’m not sure about everywhere…but here our local Ronald McDonald House is apparently always willing to take stuffed animals. They use them as prizes on BINGO night for pediatric patients and their siblings.
In addition, there is a national organization called S.A.F.E. (Stuffed Animals for Emergencies), with chapters around the country. Regretfully one of them were close enough to work for me, but they basically act as a central deposit location for stuffed animals and then they take care of distributing to local police and fire stations, family services organizations, and even military troops overseas. The catch is that you have to clean the animals per the instructions on their website first.
And if you happen to live anywhere near Concord, VA, I recently learned about the Teddy Bear Brigade, a program managed by Gleaning for the World. They collect new and gently used stuffed animals and put them in the hands of orphans, refugees, and abandoned children around the world suffering from natural disasters, sickness, disease and war.
Driving around town today was a little bittersweet. My baby is growing up. (*sniff* *sniff*) But knowing that we could bring a little love into the life of a child in need overrode my own selfish sentimentality. And bonus – we can actually see the entire floor in my daughter’s bedroom…and that’s nothing to cry about!
How old was your tween/teen when they divested of their stash? What did you do with them all?
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