Ten-year-old Ivy Cater surprised several agencies that help children facing difficult times with donations of new stuffed animals she collected

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Prineville 10-year-old Ivy Cater drops off a bag of stuffed animals she collected at the Crook County Sheriff's Office to the pleasant surprise of Sergeant James Savage.

A couple months ago, 10-year-old Prineville resident Ivy Cater was looking through an issue of American Girl magazine.

The publication is associated with a company that creates and sells dolls to young girls that resemble their likeness. Cater said she already has one that looks just like her.

This particular day, she came across an article that inspired her to start collecting even more toys – but not for her.

“I saw a girl who had a cleft palate and cleft lip who came from China,” Cater recalls. “She collected hundreds of stuffed animals and donated them to a fire station and all of those places.”

The story spurred a decision to devise an outreach program of collecting stuffed animals for local children who are enduring difficult circumstances. As she launched her effort, Cater turned to members of her home Prineville Community Church for help.

“I went to the substitute Sunday school teacher and I told her that it might be good church project,” she said. “So, the Sunday school teacher and I went up to the pastor, and he said we could do it (as church project) if we put a little tag on it that has something Biblical.”

With the help of her mother Starla, and other church members, Cater placed a donation box covered in wrapping paper in the building.

“The pastor put it in the bulletin and everybody started bringing in stuffed animals,” she said. “I remember when the box started filling up.”

After five weeks, at the end of October, Cater was ready to deliver her dolls. She managed to collect 49 animals – “We just missed 50,” she said.

Next, it was time to attach the Bible verses, another activity that Cater particularly enjoyed. Her mom picked the verses, with the intent of providing recipients with words of comfort.

“It was the ‘Fear not, I am with you’ type of verses — real short ones,” Starla said.

James Savage, a sergeant with the Crook County Sheriff’s Office, remembers fondly when Cater showed up with her donation.

“I got called to the front office,” he said. “She had a bag of stuffed animals that were new that she collected.”

This was the first time a child had ever made such a donation to their office. The gesture later prompted Sheriff Jim Hensley to write her a letter of appreciation and send it to her with a corresponding certificate.

“She had a lot of initiative for a kid to do something for the community, so it’s pretty neat,” Savage said. “Someone her age saw a need and she filled it.”

Sheriff office staff have since stocked their patrol cars with the gifts and have passed them out to children they encounter in various difficult situations.

Julie Martinez, supervisor for the victims’ assistance program at the Crook County District Attorney’s Office, was similarly surprised when young Cater showed up with her donation.

“It is usually adults,” Martinez said. “We have never had a child take it upon herself to donate stuffed animals to us.”

Cater also dropped off bags of stuffed animals at the local Lutheran Community Services facility as well as Prineville’s Department of Human Services office.

A proud mother, Starla acknowledged that when she was 10 year old, it never occurred to her to collect toys and donate them to other children the way her daughter has.

“She is a civic-minded little thing,” Starla said with a smile.

In the end, her first venture into charity work may have spawned a desire to embark on another project someday.

“If I can think of one, I’ll try to do it.”

Contract Publishing

Go to top