The trouble with stuffed animals

I think I’ve gone to one garage sale in my life. I was on my mission and my companion wanted to go. Personally, I’m too cheap to spend money on other people’s toss outs. So, I don’t go. Plus there’s that whole early weekend morning thing the sales tend to land on. I maintain anything earlier than 9:00am does not and should not exist on a Saturday. How in the world did I end up helping out at one last Saturday?

The youth in our church decided they wanted to do a service project. Fine. Something to help the community. Great. But what?

Somebody came up with the idea to do a garage/bake sale with goods donated by members of the stake (the whole church in town).   Whatever money was raised would be donated to local charities. Great idea!

Another member of our presidency served on the committee and worked hard to get the details right. We didn’t know what kind of a response we would get in everything from donations to buyers. The response was very overwhelming.  More goods were donated than we could ever hope to sell in our 3 hour window. The community willingly donated and we reached our goal… x2.

We were also able to donate a sizable portion to a local thrift shop that will give things away if a person can’t pay. But what to do with the stuffed animals?

Someone suggested we give them to the fire department. “The fire department,” she said, “gives the stuffed toys to children involved in accidents.”

Sounds good!

So we separated the stuffed animals from the rest of the goods being donated. “Load them in my car,” I uncharacteristically volunteered. “I will drop them by the fire department.”

“If no one is there, just leave them by the door,” someone suggested.

We finished cleaning our mess and took our trailer full of donations to the thrift store.

I had been on my feet all day and didn’t feel like taking the stuffed animals to the fire department that day. Instead, I waited until Monday. While at work on Monday I thought I had better call to make sure it was okay.

“Hello,” I said to the person who answered the phone. “I have five garbage sacks and one tote full of stuffed animals we’d like to donate.”

“No, thank you.” To be honest, she sounded a little curt.

Hmmm. Maybe I called the wrong building. I dialed the other number.

“I don’t know anything about that,” said a cheery fireman. “But here’s the number you need to call to ask….” he gave me the first number I called.  “Thanks,” I said with no intention of calling again.

“Maybe try the police department?” a co-worker who overheard my plight suggested.

“Somebody just donated a whole bunch of brand new teddy bears for that,” came the policewoman’s response. “We have no storage space.”

I had a car full of stuffed animals I really wanted to get rid of. This was turning into a project. This is the exact reason I don’t volunteer for things like this.

Finally, I found someone to take them. I’m not exactly sure what she is going to do with them. I think I may have just shifted my problem to her – which I do feel kind of bad about. Although I do feel a tinge of guilt for feeling relieved that they are out of my car.

Here’s the big lesson from this folks: stuffed animals are not sanitary. Most people do not touch them at garage sales (as EVERYONE told me AFTER they were loaded in my car). However, if you do have some to sell, mark them as “pet toys.” You might have better luck. In fact, the kind lady that took them off my hands said she may try the humane society with the left over ones from her project.

That’s how it is with anything though, right? It’s all in the phrasing. The phrasing and knowing when not to volunteer.


2 thoughts on “The trouble with stuffed animals

  1. I wonder if it is also that soft toys have to some extent an emotion attached to them? Everyone has they’re own soft toys and they know who and why they were given – why would they want someone else’s soft toy? It’s silly I know, but soft toys are often very personal. But it does seem wasteful to the environment that people have soooo many they have no need for them any more! I had a handful of soft toys when I was little, and still have a few of them now, but I remember in the late 80’s friends whose kids had so many by the age of five the cupboard door would burst open with them all – ridiculous!! And in contrast to that I can remember my Mother saying she had one doll in her wartime childhood, and not that many other toys either. The need for toys has got so out of control.

    The money spent on unnecessary soft toys round the world could be put to better use – maybe feeding the suffering or starving in a war-zone? You hear about paper waste, water bottle waste and unnecessary packaging on fresh food, but never have I heard anyone talking of soft toy waste. I’m sure there are many other kinds of waste most people never think about.

    I have asked friend and relatives not to buy me presents for a while because I am literally cluttered with stuff I can’t do anything with. It’s making them think too, “Do I need to buy this?”

    I shall try and remember to tweet this for you, as it’s a very good point – something people need to think about. And I hope those toys find a good home one day and not end up on a landfill site.

  2. As with everything, I don’t think people realize how much they are spending on things such as this. A little here, a little there. Plus, stuffed animals are the fall back gift item for kids under a certain age (kinda like candles for us adults). Maybe we don’t realize how much we are accumulating until it comes time to ditch them.
    The humane society (pets) idea for old stuffed animals came from the lady I dropped the animals off at. She said, “If nothing else you can try to sell them to pet owners.”
    Ah! Things you learn as you go 🙂 Next time we’ll know.

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