If you want your team or organization to do something that will help the children in your community, consider getting them involved in a stuffed animal charity.
Emergency responders and firefighters often provide stuffed animals to children, so you can consider dropping off the repaired stuffed animals to a local firehouse. You can also donate the stuffed animals to daycare centers in low-income areas or children’s hospitals. This activity stimulates learning for team members and engages them in creating and executing strategies, with the goals of delivering newly clean and repaired stuffed animals.
Gathering the Animals
The first step to take for this stuffed animal charity is to gather the animals together. You can have team members bring in any damaged toys that might be collecting in their homes. You can also have some team members visit local thrift shops or Salvation Army stores to find stuffed animals in need of repair. Rummage and garage sales are also good places to find stuffed toys in need of some loving.
Grooming and Cleaning the Animals
Once you gather the animals for your stuffed animal charity, the fun can begin. Have each team member select a stuffed animal to repair. The first step will be to clean and groom the animals. If an animal’s material has formed small balls of fluff, a lint brush can be used to remove them. If the fur is matted, you can use a wire brush.
Team members should also make sure the animals are clean by getting rid of any loose dirt. One method for doing this is to place a panty hose over the nozzle of a vacuum hose and vacuum the fur. Deep cleaning can be done by pouring a small bit of baby shampoo, about a capful, into warm water, dampening a washcloth with the soapy water, and then rubbing the material or fur in circles. Rinse the animal off with a damp, clean cloth, and put the animal in a shaded area to air dry.
Replacing Animal Stuffing
Replacing the stuffing will be a primary goal in your stuffed animal charity. A stuffed animal that has been shown a lot of love, has attended a number of tea parties, and has been used in place of a pillow, can often appear stooped and slumped over. This is because inside the stuffing has shifted around and become compressed, making parts of the body or limbs hollow or limp.
To fix this you should provide team members with bags of polyester fiberfill that they can use to replace the stuffing and seam rippers. You’ll be able to find the fiberfill and seam rippers at most craft stores or fabric shops. Fiberfill is an excellent material to use for stuffing, as the animal can then be hand washed or placed in a washing machine on the gentle cycle. You can also put an animal stuffed with fiberfill in the dryer without the stuffing getting bunched up or shrinking.
The Steps to Replacing Stuffing
The first step to replacing the stuffing is to open the stuffed animal’s body. Search along the animal’s seams to try to locate the area that was originally used to stuff the animal. Look carefully, as this seam will appear different from the others, often appearing crooked or bumpy, with a bit of fur tucked under. This area is often found between the animal’s legs or along its back, or in some other inconspicuous place. Instruct team members to use the seam rippers they were provided to open the seam after they locate it by carefully cutting the stitches near the opening.
Once this is done, tell team members to pull off tiny pieces of stuffing, around the size of a big gumball, and to push it into any hollow areas in the animal’s body. They can use their fingers if they are working on some of the more fragile animals, or they can use items like chopping sticks or hemostats on the more sturdy animals. Team members should use their palms and rub the toy as they stuff. This will even out the stuffing and ensure that no lumps or hollow parts remain.
Each team member can decide if he or she wants the animal to be firmly stuffed or maybe a bit squishy, depending on the creature. Remind team members who are firmly stuffing their animals to avoid tearing through the fabric’s weaker areas.
When team members are satisfied with the stuffing, they can each stitch up the opening using extra strong thread that will be able to stand up to the rigorous activities of playtime and numerous washings. When this task is complete, have each team member inspect his or her animal one last time and repair any threadbare areas or small holes.
Wrapping Up Your Stuffed Animal Charity
When your team members have successfully cleaned, restuffed, and repaired all of the animals gathered for your stuffed animal charity, make sure they are all involved in the distribution of the animals. They can receive no better payoff or reward then witnessing the joy of the children to whom the animals are delivered.