Miss Stanly County creates Red Cross stuffed animal drive

When Miss Stanly County 2020 Karie Grace Shields was a little girl, her house caught on fire. Luckily, the American Red Cross was around to help Shields and her family get back on their feet.

The organization made sure her family had a shelter and food. They also allowed Shields to go and pick out a stuffed animal so she could have something tangible to hold onto during a turbulent time in her life.

“They were that little stepping stone,” that helped her family recover, Shields said.

Though Shields, 20, doesn’t remember the specific stuffed animal she picked out, she does remember the kindness the Red Cross extended to her and her family — and she wants to pay it forward. Her social impact initiative, or platform, as Miss Stanly County is working with the Red Cross to help families affected by disasters.

One of the big events she created in conjunction with the Red Cross is a stuffed animal drive.

Through Feb. 14, people are encouraged to bring new or gently-used stuffed animals to either the American Red Cross in Albemarle (243 W. Main St.) or Tarheel Auto Sales in Locust (404 W. Main St.). The animals will go to families in Stanly affected by disaster. If enough animals are collected, they likely will also go to families in nearby counties.

Regarding the stuffed animal drive, Shields said it “was one thing that I really wanted to do because I knew how much it…had an impact on me as a kid being able to just have something.”

“It’s the little things that matter sometimes,” Shields, a junior at Pfeiffer University, said.

Red Cross recruitment specialist Sabrina Beasley-Cline said Shields contacted the organization a few months ago with the idea for the drive.

Shields, who plans to personally collect and donate several stuffed animals, hopes the drive offers some hope to those affected by disaster.

“I want people to see that there are other people out there who are there for them and care for them and just show them that they’re not alone,” Shields said.

Asked about the Red Cross’ impact on her life, Shields replied: “It means everything.”

To register to volunteer for the American Red Cross, go to www.redcross.org/volunteer.