RUTLAND - The Annual Stuffed Animal Shelter was held December 4 and 5th at Depot Park in Rutland. Rutland radio station Z-97 partnered with Broc to collect new toys for underprivileged children this holiday season.
The first year they collected over 300 toys, the second year they collected over 600 and this year they doubled their previous record- making the community stand out as a very giving community at this time of year.
"This year was an amazing year for the Stuffed Animal Shelter. Lots of stories, lots of laughter, excitement and in the end we helped, through BROC, put thousands of smiles on the faces of kids in this community," said Promotions Director Amanda Begins. "We never really set a goal in terms of dollars or number of toys at the start of the toy drive. Our overall goal is always to help make a child's holiday season a little bit brighter. However, we always keep a tally of how many donations are received just to build the excitement and to see how many kids we've helped. This year we collected over the course of two days 1,340 books, toys, dolls, stuffed animals and we also collected $140 in gift cards and cash. The variety of the donations was outstanding. People really responded to our call."
The Z-97 website explains the reason behind working tirelessly this season to help out: "Can you imagine cancelling Christmas? No lights, no presents, no big dinners, no tree. The harsh reality is that there are people in our community that live with that reality and not by choice. There are families that barely have enough money to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. Christmas presents are just a fantasy."
Radio personality Frankie-G explained the origins of the event. "WSYB has its Christmas Fund, WJJR has Stuff-a-Bus and Z-97 has Stuffed Animal Shelter. We are able to help some children in our community who may not otherwise have a present this holiday," he said.
Broc Community Action of Southwestern Vermont is in charge of distributing the toys to children who show signs of special need this holiday season. Elizabeth, of Broc, encourages people to help in any way that they can, if they can. "We are grateful for everyone for being able to do anything. It really does make a difference."
Begins told about one of her favorite moments, "I must say I was in complete shock when I returned to the Stuffed Animal Shelter to relieve colleague Frankie G. for a lunch break and there were two brand new bikes parked on the sidewalk. A young woman had made a significant donation and her parents were right behind her pushing the bikes. They parked them in front of our shed and walked away stating that those were for the kids! It amazes me how kids have the biggest hearts, too." Frankie G. showed off two bikes that were donated to this photographer.
Another heartfelt moment was expressed by Begins: "Two teens pulled up to make a donation. I was ready to take their bag of toys and they said 'Wait we have a whole car full, where can we drop it off?' They were from Rutland High School as a part of the Giving Club. They had collected nearly 300 toys and $30."
The radio station would like to express their sincere gratitude for the local businesses that have helped once again this year to make this event such a success as well as the community for everyone's generosity. Special thanks to The Rutland Parks Department, Garden Time and Casella Waste Systems for helping make it possible.
Z-97 is still collecting toys, stuffed animals, gift cards, money. Contact Promotions Director, Amanda Begins at 802-775-7620 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We are all looking forward to what stories will surface for next year's Stuffed Animal Shelter and what kinds of donations we'll see," she said.