KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — The Knox County Juvenile Court has hundreds of new stuffed animals for children who come through the court, partly thanks to a Knoxville woman with a big heart.
Cecelia McDowell heard the court was asking for help back in December and started collecting. She asked for help from businesses, friends and her church family.
She ended up donating nearly 200 stuffed animals.
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"It has been so successful. It's just been running over. My heart has been overwhelmed with the response I have gotten," she said.
The court said these kinds of donations are a huge necessity. They're handed out to kids often there for abuse and neglect, or kids coming in for foster care. It helps them feel less scared and more willing to talk.
"It has worked miracles, it's been way more valuable than I ever thought it would be," said Juvenile Judge Tim Irwin.
The East Tennessee community's donations were able to completely replenish the court's supply of stuffed animals, as well as provide $1,500 to buy more in the future.
The Tennessee Department of Child Services responds to more than 37,000 reports of child abuse and neglect a year. There are nearly 8,000 children in foster care within the state.
If you would like to donate, you can drop off new stuffed animals at the Juvenile Court.
You can also make a check payable to 'Compassion Coalition' noting it's for stuffed animals at 318 N. Gay Street, Suite 207.