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9-year-old birthday boy donates 511 stuffed toys to police to comfort kids in scary situations

This is the third year in a row that young Hunter Peterson has collected and donated stuffed toys from friends and family instead of receiving traditional birthday presents.

9-year-old birthday boy donates 511 stuffed toys to police to comfort kids in scary situations
Cover Image Source: Melissa Peterson

For the third year in a row, young Hunter Peterson celebrated his birthday in the most heartwarming way: by bringing a little comfort to children who could potentially be facing some of the scariest moments of their lives. The youngster came up with the heartening tradition just before his 7th birthday in 2020 when he asked his friends and family for stuffed animals instead of conventional birthday presents so that he could donate the toys to the Kenosha Police Department for children in bad or scary situations. That year, Hunter handed over 111 stuffed animals to the department. Last year, he gave away nearly three times as much and donated 308 stuffed toys.


This May, Hunter marked his 9th birthday by breaking his own impressive record by donating 511 new, full-sized stuffed animals and countless smaller stuffed toys. "I came up with this idea, because my daycare has always taught me to help people who are less fortunate than us and to treat people with less than you the same as you'd treat anyone else," Hunter told Kenosha News. "I just want other kids to feel safe, happy and not lonely. I want them to have something to hold when they are scared."


Speaking to CBS 58 last year, Hunter's mother, Melissa Peterson, revealed how it all began. "It is just something he came up with last year on his own a week before his birthday and I just ran with it. He loves to give back and help others and he loves the police department and wants to be a police officer when he is older," she said. After news of Hunter's birthday initiative spread far and wide over the past couple of years, donations came in from all over the country this year. "This year was crazy," said Peterson. "I posted Hunter's call for birthday donations to friends and family on Facebook, and then everyone began sharing it. We even had donations shipped to us from other states."

Image Source: Melissa Peterson
Image Source: Melissa Peterson

KPD's Officer Friendly, Tyler Cochran—who has collected the stuffed animals from Hunter since he began his birthday donations—revealed that while some of the donated stuffed toys are kept at the police station, others go into the trunks of squad cars. Some are also shared with the local fire department. "Often, when an officer goes to a scene with children, they will be very distraught. It helps when the officer has a teddy bear that they can give the child. It gives (the child) something to hold on to and provides a little bit of comfort," Cochran explained.

Image Source: Melissa Peterson
Image Source: Melissa Peterson

Although 511 donated stuffed toys is an incredibly impressive achievement for a 9-year-old, Hunter has his sights set higher. "I've always dreamed of donating 1,000," he said. His dream number does not come as a surprise to either Cochran or Hunter's mom. "He is always just wanting to help. Anyone and anyway he can, Hunter just wants to help out," a proud Peterson said. "It's incredible to see a child view his birthday as a chance to think of other kids," Cochran stated. "He is going to do big things, he really is."

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