For some people, birthdays tend to lose their excitement as we get older. But to a kid, particularly one still in single digits, their birthday is a bonafide holiday worth celebrating.
Most children want presents, a birthday cake, and a party with their friends where they get to romp around and have a good time. But one 9-year-old boy in Bellevue, Nebraska, decided to spend his day differently.
Jack Gallagher wanted to do something for others on his birthday on May 20.
With more devices and gimmicks to keep kids entertained than ever, it’s easy to conceive a youngster’s birthday wish list spanning the length of a short story. Video games and electronics are more abundant than ever.
But for his ninth birthday, Jack eschewed the norm of receiving presents, and instead decided to give. He asked family and friends for stuffed animals, which he would then donate to the Bellevue Police Department.
The police department often puts toys and stuffed animals to use in a number of different ways.
“If they’ve been removed from a home, there was a house fire or mom and dad had a medical emergency,” Roger Cox, community policing and relations coordinator for the Bellevue Police Department, said to the World-Herald.
“It’s just a nice gesture so they have something to cling to that can hopefully bring them a little comfort.”
Jack collected and donated 15 stuffed animals in total.
Jack’s mother, Colleen Gallagher, said this wasn’t the first time her son has done something like this. He first learned about the police department’s use of toys when he was 6 years old.
“Jack came home and told me that, and I told him, ‘Hey that’s great. We love Bellevue, how about we do this for your birthday party?'” Colleen said to the World-Herald.
“He was hesitant at first. He was 6 and wanted presents. But when we told him he’ll be helping kids who need it, he liked the idea.”
This year, Jack was excited about donating the stuffed animals, and it seemed he felt as though the act of giving was a gift unto itself.
“It felt really good giving the bears to (the officers),” Jack said to the World-Herald. “It was kind of hard to give up the gifts, but once you think it through, it helps a lot of people other than you.”
Cox said donations like Jack’s can have a surprisingly lasting effect.
While handing out a stuffed animal to a child in distress may seem small, officer Cox said the effect can be greater than one would expect. He recalled one incident that involved a 7-year-old boy in a bicycle accident.
“He wasn’t too injured but the responding officer gave him that teddy bear, and he still has it 20-some years later,” Cox said. “Sometimes it can seem like a small gesture but the power it can have for some of those children is amazing.”
The police department gladly accepted Jack’s donation, and were impressed with his generosity. After posing for a few photos, the stuffed animals were handed off, where they’ll find new homes in the arms of kids who need them.