New Homes for ‘Previously-Loved’ Stuffed Animals

Feb 27, 2019
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

Stuffed animals have a significant, but usually not permanent, place in a child’s life. As most parents know, it’s easy to accumulate too many. But it’s not always easy to find new homes for them later, because not many places accept secondhand plush toys. It’s a bit of a pickle for those who are loath to throw away items with usable “life” left in them.

When Robert Lassonde, 8, of Surf City, a third-grader at Long Beach Island Grade School, decided he was ready to part with about half of his stuffed animal collection, the solution was the Stafford Police Department. There, the critters will have a new and even higher purpose: to comfort a frightened or hurt child during an emergency, a domestic violence call or other investigation.

A stuffed animal can mean the world to a little girl or boy, especially during a scary or painful time, Officer Allen Jillson said. The police will stock each cruiser and keep some at the department to hand out as needed.

On Monday afternoon, Jillson, along with Sgt. Kenneth Schiattarella and Officer Rich Sinopoli, accepted the donation of about 50 plush toys – 25 from Lassonde and another 25 or so from Matt Keppler, 8, of Cedar Run, a third-grader at McKinley Elementary School. His mom, Lou-Ann, is a retired City of Yonkers police officer and was eager to add to the donation effort when she heard about it.

Lou-Ann had helped Matt pare down his animals so that only his most cherished remained. She encouraged him by explaining the donated animals would be like friends for other children to hug and hold onto if temporarily separated from their parents. They played out a scenario where Matt was the police officer presenting a toy to a little kid. He said, “Here you go – everything’s going to be OK.”

Lassonde said it gave him a good feeling to know his previously-loved toys would do good in the community.

“I think it’s amazing that (my donated toys) are going to help kids who need them more than I do,” he said.

Before tossing those gently used toys, check with local emergency response agencies. —V.F.

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