Christmas Cuddle Campaign is ‘soul-touching experience’

CALUMET — The Christmas Cuddle Campaign to acquire 50 plush cats and dogs for the residents of Gardenview Assisted Living and Memory Care was an overwhelming success, said campaign organizer Naomi White.

White began the campaign on social media on Oct. 30, with a goal of 50 plush pets, and a deadline of Dec. 14. The objective was to deliver one stuffed toy to each resident of the facility the day after the drop-off deadline. Although the campaign began with a very low number of responses, by last Wednesday, she had only met her goal, but surpassed it by 14. When the campaign deadline was reached on Thursday, White said she had 64 plush toys, not all of which would fit into a large, green “Santa bag” she had for the event.

After they toys were distributed Saturday morning, White and her partner, Dave Kohn, were amazed at the responses from the residents, several of whom cried.

“Happy tears and hugs as they cuddled their new fur babies,” said White. “My heart is filled with love right now. What a soul-touching experience.”

Kohn said he thought it turned out well, and was happy with the event.

“The faces, the reactions were precious,” he said.

The campaign began on Oct. 30, when White first posted it on social media.

“I had put it out there several times online, and got very few responses,” said White.

But her friend in California saw the social media post and sent 11 through the mail to White’s home address.

Douglas Toy Company of Keene, New Hampshire, sent 22 more after White emailed a donation request to the toy manufacturer, along with a copy of the initial story published in the Daily Mining Gazette on Dec. 15.

“I emailed them, along with the DMG article, and they wrote back and said they’d be happy to help, and to make sure and send pictures along to them.”

After White and Kohn distributed the toys, residents sat together reminiscing and sharing stories of pets they had owned years ago, when they were children or young adults.