Final Stuffed with Love fundraiser set for Saturday

A whopping 1,650 stuffed animals have been collected through the inaugural Stuffed with Love campaign.

This year’s drive will come to an end Saturday when Roger Douglass with the Seymour Young Marines will be stationed outside Five Below in Columbus from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. to collect donations of new stuffed animals.

When he did that one day in April, 258 stuffed animals were donated.

A couple of days later, he delivered 100 to Columbus Regional Health in Columbus so the hospital could start using them right away. Earlier this month, he delivered 100 to Schneck Medical Center in Seymour.

As the campaign wraps up, the collection will be split in half and given to the two hospitals, which will present them to kids admitted to the emergency room, outpatient surgery unit and pediatrics unit.

Bonnie Shehan, Douglass’ grandmother, said Saturday will be the final opportunity to donate new stuffed animals. Monetary donations also will be accepted to buy stuffed animals.

“We still have donations coming in,” she said. “Since we met both of our goals, I am just hoping we can collect up to 1,900 total stuffed animals. Cross your fingers.”

The most recent opportunity for people to donate was May 20 during a special event at Shields Park in Seymour. A ceremony was conducted to educate people about Stuffed with Love and Seymour Young Marines, and sponsors that have contributed to the campaign were acknowledged.

Afterwards, attendees enjoyed free pizza donated by Poplar Street Restaurant, Chicago’s Pizza, Domino’s, Pizza Hut and Papa John’s and free bottled water, played yard games and signed up for a chance to win a big teddy bear.

“We want to thank Duke Energy, Toyota, Ladies of the Moose, Walmart, Target, ATI Physical Therapy, Five Below, Seymour Decorating Center, Family Drug and of course the community for helping so many children when they need it most,” Shehan said. “Without the local media’s help, we know we couldn’t have met our goals, so thank you to The Tribune and local radio stations.”

Douglass’ original goal was to collect 1,000 new stuffed animals by the time the celebratory event rolled around. He accomplished that well before the event, so the goal was increased to 1,500.

He and his grandmother are looking forward to seeing what the final total is because they already have received feedback from the hospitals about the impact the stuffed animals are making.

“Columbus Regional Health is grateful to Seymour Young Marines, especially Roger Douglass and his family, for collecting stuffed animals and other items for our youngest patients,” Columbus Regional Health said in a statement. “Young patients are often scared and nervous about the hospital, and having a comfort item can make all of the difference.”

Kristy Day, director of the Schneck emergency department, said she is forever grateful for the donation. She told Shehan the hospital uses thousands of stuffed animals a year.

“It has already made a huge impact in the emergency department,” she said in a statement to the family. “I’ve seen so many smiles on the faces of the ill or injured children that have passed through our emergency department recently. We have nearly given out all the stuffed animals. It is a truly wonderful thing your crew has done.”

Shehan said the plan is to do this campaign on an annual basis.