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Hundreds of stuffed animals left at memorial for Shanann Watts, daughters will be donated

August 30, 2018 GMT

Mourners have left hundreds of toys, flowers and balloons to remember Shanann Watts and her two daughters, who were murdered earlier this month in Colorado and a man who lives nearby has figured out a way to make those gifts mean even more.

For many, the videos and pictures left behind are their only connections to North Carolina native Shanann Watts and her daughters, Bella and Celeste.

Since they were killed, complete strangers have been leaving candles, balloons, flowers and toys outside their Colorado home to mourn the loss.

For nearly two weeks, the memorial grew. Trent John recently took his son by the home to pay their respects when he came across Watts’ father.

“A chance meeting turned into something great,” John said.

John asked Watts’ father if he could repurpose the memorial to honor the lives of those lost.

“A great way to process some if this is to give service,” John said.

With the blessing of Watts’ father, John collected hundreds of stuffed animals, clearing the memorial. Most will be cleaned and donated to local police departments, to be given to other children in crisis.

“All in honor of the children. If we can honor their lives and their personalities, that would be a wonderful thing,” John said. “Her father became emotional, he was very grateful for the idea and he said that he would love for something like that to happen.”

While John knows there is nothing he can do to bring the family back, he hopes the donations will encourage a mourning community to lift up others in honor of Watts and her two daughters.

“We will come together. We know how to pull together. We know how to lift each other’s burdens,” he said.

John said he has collected about 400 stuffed animals. He is also organizing volunteers around the country to sew blankets for first responders to give to people in need.