Everyday Hero: Teen making a difference, 1 stuffed animal at a time

By Erin Murray, Spectrum News 13
Last Updated: Tuesday, December 26, 2017, 10:52 AM EST

Parents have to tell their kids to clean their rooms all too often.

  • Teen donates stuffed animals for first responders to give to scared children during a crisis
  • Jessica Carscadden has donated 3,500 bags of stuffed animals
  • How to help: We Care Bears
  • To nominate an Everyday Hero, email feedback@mynews13.com

But for one girl, it was this simple request that actually sparked an idea to help others.  

While cleaning her room one day years ago Jessica Carscadden realized she had a lot of stuffed animals - a whole lot. She said she also knew that firefighters and first responders often come in contact with frightened children during fires and accidents. 

So she thought those kids would be less scared if they had a stuffed animal during a difficult time. 

Now an Apopka High student, Carscadden, 15, is donating stuffed animals to the UCF police department. 

The animals are put in patrol cars, so officers can give them to children during a crisis. Beary says it’s a donation they will absolutely use, and one that is very unexpected. 

"We would never, ever have budget money to be able to buy things like this," said UCF Police Chief Richard Beary. "It’s an amazing story, to be so young, and to have a vision, and to keep that vision going is really amazing."

This donation is far from her first. She first started giving when she was 9.

"And I decided to take them to the fire department across the street back in California, at home, and the firefighters loved the idea," Carscadden said. 

Her family has since relocated to Orange County and she’s turned the giving project into a non-profit called We Care Bears. 

"I never expected (it) to be this big," she said. 

To date, she has helped donate 3,500 bags of stuffed animals. 

"It’s a great feeling because I know that are going to receive this are going to feel more comforted and more safe," Carscadden said.

And she doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon.