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Stuffed animals in need of distributor

September 04, 2002

Janine Marnien

Volunteers at Bundles of Hope have about 300 stuffed animals

they've collected for children displaced by wildfires in western

states earlier this summer.

The problem is, they can't seem to get rid of them.

The group, made up of Taylor Witte, 12, Carri Witte, 10, and

Remy deBrauwere, 11, had initially hoped to give the animals to the

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American Red Cross for distribution.

About 100 animals were shipped to displaced children in Texas, but

the lack of response to the group's continued efforts was

frustrating, said Dawn Witte, Carri's mother.

"We had told them what we were doing and the areas we were looking

to send them," she said.

"We were told that the Red Cross doesn't have a presence in those

areas."

The group first contacted the San Gabriel Valley Chapter of the

Red Cross in Pasadena, and the chapter's chief development officer,

Barbara Racklin, said she was surprised by the claims.

"We worked with them and got several of their stuffed animals

sent," she said. "They did get kind of a late start, so by the time

they started collecting, the Red Cross portion of the emergency

response in those areas had shut down."

Bundles of Hope will look for other agencies to distribute the

animals, and Witte will no longer give her annual contribution to the

Red Cross, she said.

"As long as they get into the hands they were donated for, that's

all we're concerned with," she said.

The difficulty in distributing the animals didn't detract from the

success of the drive, Taylor said.

"I think that we were doing a nice thing by helping the kids that

needed it," she said. "A lot of people really wanted to help."

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