Kristie Winiarski believes all children deserve to grow up with their own stuffed animal.
Paws of Friendship held its first meeting Wednesday, recruiting students who were interested in helping children own lifelong fluffy friends.
As Winiarski, president of Paws of Friendship, was reading “The Autobiography of Santa Claus,” she decided it was a necessity for kids without parents to possess their own toys.
Although an orphanage provides kids toys to play with, none actually belongs to the children, Winiarski (senior-public relations, economics and media studies) said.
Members of the club will be engaged in fundraising activities to provide children in orphanage and foster care with stuffed animals, said Nicole Visovsky, (senior-marketing) vice president of the club.
Unlike other toys, stuffed animals are beneficial to children because they bring them emotional support, Visovsky said.
Stuffed animals help one feel a sense of security in addition to reducing separation anxiety and promoting relaxation, said Winiarsky.
Children will also gain confidence and a sense of pride by owning something, Visovsky said.
“Littlest things go a long way,” Visovsky said.
Students who attended the meeting said they were attracted by the club’s uniqueness.
“Not a lot of clubs are geared toward a specific goal such as stuffed animals,” said Morgan Hammer (junior-broadcasting journalism).
Some students said they wanted to participate in the cause to help children.
“It’s like giving children a Build-A-Bear toy for those who don’t have a chance to get it,” said Rebecca Rice (sophomore-communications).
Members of the club will also gain an opportunity to do various community services of their interest.
As a club promoting active engagement in students, Paws of Friendship will hold events and activities proposed and chosen by members, Winiarski said.
“We want them to be a real part of community,” she said.
Students will work for a local food bank and read books to children at libraries, Winiarski said.
Winiarski says that the club is open for anyone seeking a place to fit in.
“We just want [the club members] to feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves,” Winiarski said.
Members will be provided with homemade cookies at every meeting.
“If people are willing to take their time to listen me talking, it’s my job to show them appreciation,” Winiarski said.