Garner: Community

Garner boy donates stuffed animals to Smithfield Highway Patrol

Jack Nelson, 8, pulls out stuffed animals to give to 1st Sgt. V.E. Burton.
Jack Nelson, 8, pulls out stuffed animals to give to 1st Sgt. V.E. Burton.

When 8-year-old Jack Nelson heard about how first-responders give stuffed animals to children in car crashes, he knew he wanted to help.

So Jack gathered up many of his stuffed animals – about 30 in all – to the N.C. Highway Patrol station in Smithfield. His motivation? “So kids can be happy if anything bad happens,” he said.

Jack lives in Garner, and his neighbors got involved after they heard about his project. “Once his friends found out, they wanted to take part too,” said Jack’s father, Paul Nelson.

In all, Jack collected about 120 stuffed animals – teddy bears, of course, but also other animals along with TV and movie characters, including the Hulk. He and his parents delivered the donations to the Highway Patrol office on Aug. 6.

Lt. Jeff Gordon said the Highway Patrol will put the stuffed animals to good use. Traffic accidents can be traumatic for children, especially if a loved one is hurt, the state trooper said.

“We try to provide something for the child to redirect their attention away from what’s happened,” he said, adding that children can keep the stuffed animals.

Troopers on patrol usually keep three stuffed animals in their cars at all times, Gordon said. Jack’s donation was timely, he said, because the Smithfield station’s supply of teddy bears was getting low, with only a handful left in the box.

“Through the years, we don’t get as many donations as we would like,” Gordon said. “We’re glad that Jack has donated his buddies.”

When taking the five bags of stuffed animals out of the family car, Jack insisted on carrying the heaviest over his shoulder. His father and mother, Sarah, came with him to deliver the donations.

“We’re proud of him,” Paul Nelson said. “He’s got a real tender heart.”

To donate stuffed animals to the Smithfield Highway Patrol office, call 919-934-2186.