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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Community, Butler Elementary give Copperview students stuffed animals to love

Mar 07, 2023 03:20PM ● By Julie Slama

Butler Elementary student leaders counted and sorted stuffed animals they were able to gather for nearby Copperview Elementary students. (Photo courtesy of Annalisa Spencer/Butler Elementary PTA President)

About 500 Copperview Elementary students may have a stuffed animal to cuddle this spring, thanks to the generosity of the community.

“We want every one of our students to have something to cuddle, something to love, a stuffed animal to call their own,” said Lorrie Judd, Copperview PTA secretary. “We’re almost there. We probably have about 400 or 425.”

Judd said the PTA became involved with the stuffed animal drive after learning from the school’s first-grade teacher Pamela Schuller that not all of her students have or have had their own stuffed animal. She said Schuller has been collecting stuffed animals annually to give to first-graders.

“I asked, ‘Why can’t we collect stuffed animals and make sure every child in our school has a stuffed animal of their very own?’ So as a PTA, we voted on it and decided that it was what we wanted to do,” she said. “My kids, my grandkids all have had stuffed animals, but we’re a Title I school and we have a lot of different people from different areas so this is something we just wanted to do for the kids.”

Shortly before the winter school break, Judd posted a request for new or gently used stuffed animals on the Next Door app.

“I was overwhelmed at the response,” she said, adding that the animals are laundered before distribution. “One person who was a college student told me, ‘I’ve never gotten rid of any of my stuffed animals—and it’s time that I did.’ A fire station in Draper brought about 30 new stuffed animals and bears for our students. Another lady whose husband would always play those claw machines and had tons of them, maybe 100; she said he collected them before he passed many years ago and she brought us those.”

One of those who responded was Butler Elementary PTA President Annalisa Spencer.

“I was just on the Next Door app and saw the post that said, ‘Hey, we’re gathering stuffed animals for the students in our school,’” she said. “When I talked to their PTA secretary, she said that most of the students at the school had never owned their own stuffed animals. So, our students did a drive; they made announcements and things and put out some bins in our front office for about a week. We gathered about 200 stuffed animals.”

The Cottonwood Heights elementary school’s student leaders sorted the plush animals by size and ensured all of them were in good condition.

“Some of them were giant ones. There were some really nice stuffed animals that were donated,” Spencer said. “Our community is really generous, and I often get requests from parents for more opportunities that our students can serve the community and help. Our students were just really excited to share their stuffed animals with kids who had never had one before.”

Spencer’s own kids even went through their own stuffed animals to donate.

“When our students heard the Copperview students had never owned their own stuffed animal, it resonated with a lot of the kids. Stuffed animals are the top of their list, their most prized toys; they love stuffed animals and seem to never have too many stuffed animals. So, for many, the thought there were children at a nearby school who had never had one I think was compelling for them. My own kids picked out ones that they thought nearby boys and girls would want to have.”

Besides donating a stuffed animal or two to love, Spencer hopes Butler students understand the significance of their actions.

“I hope they feel a sense of community when they give and serve especially in their own neighborhoods and communities,” she said. “I hope that they learned that there’s always a need where you are if you look for it, and that giving always feels good.”

Earlier this school year, Butler Elementary helped with a food donation drive.

Donations of new or good condition stuffed animals are still being accepted at Copperview Elementary. Judd said they can be dropped off at the school, 8449 S. 150 West in Midvale.