‘I just want to bring somebody a smile’: Friends collect stuffed animals for BRPD officers to give away

‘I just want to bring somebody a smile’: Friends collect stuffed animals for BRPD officers to give away
To donate a stuffed animal for BRPD officers to give to kids, call 225-620-4330. (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Just watching a nurse prepare to give a shot can be unnerving for some, but you better believe they’re thinking of a way to make it better.

By day, Hollie Mancuso is saving lives as a nurse, but recently, she voluntarily picked up a side gig collecting stuffed animals.

“We wanted to help children feel comforted,” Mancuso said. “It just brings you joy. My son is five and a half and he still plays with stuffed animals.”

Mancuso isn’t collecting them for kids at a hospital. It was the brainchild of her best friend, Rebecka, to collect gently used or new stuffed animals for officers at the Baton Rouge Police Department. When they see a child, the best friends want officers to pass on a comforting feeling.

Sarah K. Roy with Behind the Line Baton Rouge says Rebecka reached out to their organization in hopes of helping her complete this random act of kindness.

“Behind the Line will work with BRPD Administration and Community Policing Division to ensure these stuffed animals are available to the uniform patrol officers who daily meet young children in need of a smile,” Roy said.

Rebecka’s daughter, Emmah Grace, was stillborn in 2009.

“We’re representing Emmah,” Mancuso said. “I know every day she struggles, and she misses her and wonders who she can be. I want her to know that Emmah is with her every day.”

Hollie Mancuso is a nurse, but recently decided to help people in another way...
Hollie Mancuso is a nurse, but recently decided to help people in another way... (Source: WAFB)

Every year since Rebecka lost her child, she has passed on a good deed in secret.

“One year, I bought one little family’s groceries,” she said.

Mancuso says Rebecka doesn’t let anyone know when she’s planning her good deeds.

“This is the first one she’s brought me in for,” Mancuso said with a smile.

That’s because this year is a little different. Now that Rebecka has a 21-month-old daughter, Harper, who loves snuggling up with stuffed animals, Rebecka wants her toddler to know what it means to make someone else smile.

“I just want her to know that being kind can get you far,” Rebecka said.

Harper’s smile just lights up a room. That’s another motivator. Rebecka wants other kids to feel that same joy all the time.

“I just want to bring somebody a smile. A smile is contagious,” Rebecka said. “If I can just make someone smile at least once, I feel like I’ve done my job.”

Rebecka lost her daughter in 2009 and is now trying to help other children smile in any way she can.
Rebecka lost her daughter in 2009 and is now trying to help other children smile in any way she can. (Source: WAFB)

Roy also says they welcome the community involvement in supporting first responders.

New or gently used stuffed animals will be accepted until Friday, October 5. Contact Hollie Mancuso at 225-620-4330 to donate. The toy drive is also in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day held in October and Cpl. Shane Totty.

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