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Sussex boy provides a soft hug for someone who needs it

Sussex boy donates more than 150 stuffed animals

Dec. 24, 2012

Jared Pietila set out to change the world, and he did.

The 11-year-old Merton Intermediate School student already is busy in school playing drums and other percussion instruments in the school band, playing basketball and also finds time to continue tennis lessons he has taken since he was 4 years old.

But he recently found another way to spend his time when he was tasked by his teacher to "dosomething to change the world."

Jared decided to share something he liked with others - stuffed animals. Earlier this month, Jared shared a letter with his Sussex neighbors about a stuffed animal drive to benefit the less fortunate. His cause was infectious as word spread as far as Milwaukee, where the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and employees at the Capital Grill in Milwaukee donated stuffed friends.

All told, more than 150 new stuffed animals were donated in as little as three weeks.

And on Wednesday, Dec. 19, Jared donated the stuffed animals to the Salvation Army in Waukesha. And stuffed animals aren't just for little ones - they can provide a soft hug and warm thought to any age. Major Carol Lemirand of the Salvation Army said sheintends on utilizing the stuffed animals to bring to the elderly who are confined to nursing homes. She said the stuffed animals go a long way toward brightening their spirits.

"We visit 1,300 people in nursing homes and a lot of times they just huddle and cuddle that animal," said Lemirand.

The remainder of the animals will be distributed between the Sussex Outreach Center and Goodwill.

"It went really good and it felt pretty good to know its going to a good cause," said Pietila following the recent donation.

One good turn deserves another, according to Pietila, who already has an idea of what he'd like to do to help others next. "A friend of mine and I are talking about raising money and donating it to Hurricane Sandy victims," he said.

She commended Jared on his project. "He is a creative thinker and a born leader and it will be exciting to watch his life grow. I was so excited to meet him and his family. Young people like that don't come along without parents who are just the finest people," added Lemirand.

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