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RVES students donated hundreds of stuffed toys to Minneapolis police

A group of Riverview Elementary School fifth graders took time out from their phy-ed class to show off some of the stuffed animals that had been collected Monday morning. A stuffed animal drive was held at the school this week. Donations will go to the Minneapolis police.

The main office at Riverview Elementary School was a busy place this week. And colorful, too. That’s because students, parents, teachers, and even grandparents were in and out of the office, dropping off hundreds of stuffed animals.

RVES phy ed specialist Rachel Olson didn’t know her request for old, used stuffed animals would take off the way it did. She was talking with a friend one day — a friend who is also a Minneapolis police officer — and learned that the Minneapolis Police Department keeps a cabinet of stuffed animals for children who come to the police department.

The children often have been victims of abuse, or they’re at the police department because they or their siblings or parents have experienced some kind of trauma, Olson said. They’re scared, and they just need something to hug, to give a sense of security. That’s where the cabinet of stuffed animals comes in.

But that cabinet was running low. Olson knew she and the Riverview Elementary community could help. Being kind to others is a fundamental lesson taught throughout the school, Olson said.

“I thought we could do this as an act of kindness,” she said.

Olson sent out a message to the Riverview staff and parents last week, asking for donations of gently used stuffed animals. The message was shared on the school’s Facebook page, and it was posted on a few teachers’ pages, too.

Evidentially, the word got around. By 10:30 a.m. Monday, six garbage-sized bags of stuffed animals had already been collected, and the bin in the office was almost full. The stash had more than doubled by Tuesday morning.

The collection continues through Thursday morning, when Olson’s police officer friend will come to the school to pick up the donations.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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