9-year-old girl collects and donates stuffed animals to hospital patients

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9-year-old girl collects and donates stuffed animals to hospital patientsA heart-warming story from the Duke Children’s Hospital. A 9-year-old girl gathers money to buy at least 200 stuffed animals and donate them to other patients.

Lauren Petty has stayed in the hospital a few times herself. She suffers from several diagnoses including mitochondrial disease, which leaves her fatigued and affects her body’s ability to function effectively, and cerebral atrophy, which causes difficulty with balance, coordination and spatial awareness, The Times News reports.

Lauren is in third grade in school which she attends in a wheelchair. She has to use a feeding tube for the past a couple of years which has allowed her to gain much needed weight.

Lauren is one of the six children of her parents. For the past few years, in the spring, Lauren and other local special needs children have worked with Elon University Department of Physical Therapy students to give them hands-on experience. Each year, Lauren has received a check for $100 for her participation.

So this last time her mother asked her what does she want to use the money for. After replying that she really wanted to buy a new American Girl doll, Lauren told her parents she wanted to buy stuffed animals for the children’s hospital this year. “She knows what it’s like to be there and not be able to go anywhere or have anything to do,” Bryan Petty said.

Encouraged by her parents, Lauren started to think of more ways to get more stuffed animals to other children in the hospital. Now this is a cause her entire family is behind. One of her older sisters is waiting word from her school if she can collect coloring books and crayons to the children too.

Her mother set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise 500 dollars needed for 200 stuffed animals. Her parents have also been going to pick up stuffed animals from people who have purchased them to donate, as well as having others mail them to the Petty home.

“We’re not looking for anything super expensive,” she said. “We are trying to make sure they’re new stuffed animals,” adding that they didn’t want to risk issues with allergens by donating stuffed animals from homes with pets or smokers.

Lauren will be collecting stuffed animals until June 1. To donate stuffed animals, contact Jennifer Petty at bryjenkay @ msn.com, or give funds at www.GoFundMe.com/InspiredByLauren.