Rochester organization needs new home for thousands of stuffed animals
ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – A Rochester man is asking for help with finding a new home for thousands of stuffed animals that are meant to help children in crisis.
Anthony Deveaux started “Cuddlies for Kids” almost 14 years ago. His mission was to donate stuffed animals to places like Mayo Clinic, Rochester Police Department, Rochester Fire Department and the Women’s Shelter. The stuffed animals were given to children to help comfort them during a difficult time. He has put more than $50,000 of his own money over the years, buying animals and maintaining the organization. It’s not a 501C nonprofit.
“It’s a way for first responders to help communicate a little better with the kids, give them comfort, distract them, help them get through what’s happening to them,” Deveaux said.
He said when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, places stopped accepting the stuffed animals, creating a surplus.
He said he now has about 8,000 stuffed animals.
He has been storing them in All Climate Storage in Rochester for the past seven years, free of charge, he said thanks to the kindness of the owners. However, the business was recently acquired by new owners and they have told him he needs to start paying, or he needs to vacate by March 31. He isn’t able to pay for the unit, so he’s looking for solutions.
“I just wish that either the new company would give us a little more time,” Deveaux said. “So we can find people to take these. or, give me some time so I can get these connections reconnected so that I can get them sent out. If there’s someone out there in the state or anywhere that could utilize these, we’ll gladly give them to you. I just don’t want to see them go to waste.”
He said he’s reached out to Mayo Clinic, RPD and other places but he was all told that the animals can’t be taken in until new COVID-19 protocols are established, and that will take months.
“There has been a lot of work put into this over the years,” he said. “In the past, I have had senior citizens help out, packaging the stuffed animals, getting them ready. I want to thank everyone that’s been involved over the years, they contributed to really making a change in a child’s life.”
If Deveaux can’t find a solution, he said the stuffed animals will need to be incinerated.
He said even if someone could take some of them off his hands, he could consolidate and only need one storage unit, instead of two. He said it would also be helpful if another storage facility would be willing to help him out.
If interested in helping, call Anthony at 507-261-5050.
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