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Students donate stuffed animals for kids in crisis

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Two Winnipeg kids have teamed up with city firefighters and paramedics to collect stuffed animals and give them to children facing emergency situations.

The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service is supporting the Cuddles 4 Kids program, which was started by school-aged cousins Madison Vanderhooft and Cameron Houle. The kids collect new and gently used stuffed animals, and provide them to kids who are being transported by ambulance or witnessing a loved one as they are taken to hospital.

Madison, a 10-year-old student at Grosvenor Elementary School, first came up with the idea.

"I was reading an article in a magazine about a girl who donated her own stuffed animals to the local fire station," she said today. "I was inspired to do something. I thought it would be good for the community and the city to pitch in."

Last November, her cousin, Cameron, 13, became involved and started collecting stuffed animals at his school, Calvin Christian Collegiate.

The cousins have donated 140 stuffed animals so far.

The stuffed animals will ride along in city ambulances and be handed out by emergency personnel to children in emergency situations.

"Thanks to the efforts of Madison and Cameron, these stuffed animals will bring comfort to young children experiencing a family health emergency," said Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz. "The City of Winnipeg thanks both of these young people for showing such generosity of spirit and for reaching out to family and school friends to collect stuffed animals to help make others feel better."

Added WFPS Chief Bill Clark: "The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service is proud to have children like Madison and Cameron as a part of our community.

"Unfortunately, we deal with emergencies every day. But when children like Madison and Cameron think of others in times of crisis, it’s special to be a part of. We know these stuffed animals will comfort many children in difficult situations," Clark said.

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