Idaho EMS Agencies Receive Stuffed Animals for Pediatric Patients
Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Moscow, Idaho
Jan. 12—Zach Schwager didn't know when he started his Eagle Scout project that an entire room in his home would be filled with stuffed animals.
Schwager, 17, decided that instead of building a lending library or repairing a welcome sign for his final Boy Scouts of America project, he would collect stuffed animals and then donate them to each of the volunteer emergency medical services in Latah County.
He said he first got the idea from his dad, who is a paramedic for the Moscow Volunteer Fire Department. He said his dad told him that when they are responding to a call regarding a child, they often try to give them a stuffed animal.
Each of the departments recently ran out of stuffed animals, Schwager said, so he decided to help them restock.
"I thought this project would help the community more," he said.
Between Oct. 30 and Nov. 17, Schwager placed a box in each Moscow elementary school, the middle school, Moscow High School and the public library where students and community members could donate new or gently used stuffed animals.
Schwager said he was particularly surprised at the number of donations he received from fellow high school students, saying he had to empty the box on several occasions. He said before the donation deadline was up, the collection box at the middle school was also overflowing.
"I was surprised at how many I got," he said.
In just three weeks, Schwager collected more than 600 donations.
On Thursday he presented the EMSs in Deary, Potlatch, Troy, Genesee, Juliaetta-Kendrick and Moscow with several bags of stuffed animals each.
Donna Opresik, president of the Latah County EMS and member of the Deary Ambulance service, said that although the departments often receive donations, they run out quickly when they are responding to house fires, car accidents and sick kids.
"Any time we respond to a kid call or we have a child that is scared, they get a toy, whether they are transported (to the hospital) or not," she said.
Opresik said each of the stuffed animals have a name and a purpose and hopefully will provide some comfort to a child who is having a bad day.
She added that she was impressed Schwager thought of the Latah County EMS.
"It's great he wanted to do something for us—to give back to us for everything we do for our communities," she said.
If Schwager's final project is approved by the Boy Scouts of America, he will receive his Eagle Scout badge in just a few weeks. Schwager said he has been working toward getting his Eagle Scout Badge since he was 8 years old and a Cub Scout.