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These animals are just for kids

December 10, 2018 GMT

MICHIGAN CITY – PetSmart hosted its fourth annual stuffed animal drive this year to benefit kids in the South La Porte County Special Education Cooperative.

After starting in mid-October, the store had collected around 1,000 stuffed animals as of Dec. 3.

“Some of our regular customers come in almost every day and donate one, and we greatly appreciate it,” PetSmart employee Josh Lewis said.

The variety of stuffed animals included lambs, dogs, cats and rabbits.

They will be given at Christmas to area children in the special ed cooperative, which serves students in the La Porte, Westville, South Central, New Prairie, LaCrosse and Wanatah schools. The organization has a goal of helping 2,300 children.

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Paula Nichols, director of special education, has worked in Special Education for 39 years, directing the coop for the last 15.

“We want to give children something for Christmas, especially low-cognitive children,” Nichols said, “We’re here to serve the kids and make their Christmas better.

“We are a cooperative that provides services to students in La Porte Community Schools, New Prairie United School Corporation, Westville schools, South Central schools, and Tri-Township (Lacrosse and Wanatah) schools.”

The cooperative serves children from ages 3-22, providing services that “empower children to become active members of society based on their individual strengths and abilities, Nichols said.

The goal is to provide a caring community of dedicated staff and involved parents to meet the diverse academic, emotional and social needs of students in a respectful and positive environment, according to the organization’s mission statement.

Interested donors can go to the PetSmart at 122 Dunes Plaza and purchase stuffed animals at checkout through Christmas Eve.

The store is also selling its own special animals for $5 each, with 10 percent of the sales going toward the Homeless PetSmart Charity, which helps animals in need.