As part of a charitable initiative by PetSmart, the Sedalia store recently donated hundreds of plush puppies and kittens to Bothwell Regional Health Center.

A press release from BRHC says this is the 6th year the PetSmart toy drives have provided thousands of toys to children in hospitals around the country.

Courtesy of BRHC and PetSmart

BRHC says the new PetSmart store in Sedalia began the promotion in September, and Kristen Mckeage, a customer engagement leader at PetSmart, said the response has been overwhelming. “In addition to the 250 or so toys we brought to the hospital, we also took a car-full to the Salvation Army,” Mckeage said.

The nursing director for 2 Southwest, Pediatrics and Orthopedics at BRHC, Dianne Williams, said the donation of toys makes a big difference to children who come to the hospital. “You can’t imagine what that little stuffed animal means to the little kids. Some of them come from humble beginnings and they don’t get a lot. It’s really awesome to see them light up when they get a toy. It’s something for them to squeeze, and it’s a comfort.”

Williams said getting a new toy can give children a positive memory of what often starts out to be a scary trip to the hospital. She said the PetSmart donation reveals “the big hearts” people have in Sedalia and the region. “I’m amazed at how many people give back to this community,” she said.

Shoppers at PetSmart can buy a plush toy and donate it at the collection bin in the store.