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Collecting cuddles for kids with cancer

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Sixth-grader Abbie Jordan collects more than 150 stuffed animals for Candlelighters for Children with Cancer

HOLLY SCHOLZ - Eleven-year-old Abbie Jordan collected 153 brand new stuffed animals for the Candlelighters for Children with Cancer organization. She wants children with cancer to have something to comfort them.

Eleven-year-old Abbie Jordan has a big heart.

When she heard that her grandmother's Eagles Auxiliary Lodge was collecting new stuffed animals for children with cancer, she decided she wanted to try to collect 100 stuffed animals.

"I like the feeling of making people smile," the Crook County Middle School sixth-grader says, adding that she got the idea when her grandma, Patsy Warren, told her about the Eagles project.

"She has a very big heart — a huge heart. She's very compassionate and has always been that way," Abbie's mother, Jennifer Jordan, says. "She loves stuffed animals. Every time she sees a stuffed animal, she just wants it. She'll work toward it."

Every year, the women of the local Eagles Auxiliary choose a special project. This time, they chose to collect brand-new stuffed animals for Candlelighters for Children with Cancer, an organization that provides support for families in Oregon and Southwest Washington whose children are experiencing cancer.

Each month, through the Candlelighters Bedside Buddies program, nearly 100 lovable, cuddly Bedside Buddies are given to children at Doernbecher who have recently been diagnosed with cancer. They also provide soft, furry stuffed animals to children in outpatient oncology and radiation clinics.

"She decided that she wanted to try to collect 100. That was her goal. I thought that was incredibly high," Jennifer says of her daughter.

But Abbie said, "No Mom, I can do this."

She collected 153 stuffed animals — a-month-and-a-half supply for Bedside Buddies.

How did she do it?

She returned pop cans to get money to buy new stuffed animals. She made a poster. She told all of her friends and the people at church. Jennifer posted it on Facebook. The Powell Butte Community Charter School put it in their newsletter. Jennifer's boss at RE/MAX Out West Realty invited people to drop off brand-new stuffed animals at both the Prineville and Sisters locations.

Donations of money and stuffed animals came pouring in. Family sent her checks, and kind-hearted people dropped off donations.

A man who saw the post on Facebook donated a very generous portion of the $638 she collected.

"He wanted to stay anonymous, but he was very giving. He's never even met her but knew what she was doing and even took it to his church and passed the hat," Jennifer said. "When Abbie heard of this, that someone who has never even met her could so lovingly give to her project and support her, it brought her to tears for that kind of kindness."

Abbie says she'll never forget his generosity nor everyone's generosity in helping her far exceed her goal.

With the cash, Abbie got to go shopping. She bought most of the stuffed animals at Walmart and Kohl's.

The Kohl's Cares program sells stuffed animals for $5 each, and the money goes back to the Children's Foundation.

"She was really excited about that because it was like donating twice," Jennifer says.

Abbie took four shopping trips, spending $5 to $15 on each stuffed animal. The Candlelighters for Children with Cancer program requires that donations be new medium-sized stuffed animals with the tags still attached.

"They wanted them to be cuddly," Abbie's grandma Patsy said.

On Wednesday evening during the Eagles Auxiliary meeting, Abbie presented her collection. Members of the local lodge will travel to Oregon State Eagles Convention next month in Albany with the stuffed animals, and they will be given to Candlelighters for Children with Cancer to be dispersed to ill children.

Abbie says the best part of this whole project is helping kids with cancer because she gets a lot of comfort from her stuffed animals, and her whole goal is to bring some comfort to kids who need it most.

"Most importantly, I want to thank everyone for donating," Abbie says.

"I couldn't be prouder. She's a very loving and giving to think about children that are in the hospital fighting such a battle," Patsy says of her granddaughter. "It's just like God gave us a special gift when he gave us her."