11-year-old boy collects nearly 6,000 stuffed toys for Ukrainian children

Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 5:14 PM EDT
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (WJXT) – A Florida boy is on a mission to bring some comfort and joy to children in Ukraine.

The 11-year-old is partnering with businesses and the YMCA to collect stuffed animals to send to kids from the war-torn country.

By most accounts, Sage Goodall is a typical boy, with a ton of energy and a big personality.

None of that, however, compares to the size of his heart, a heart measured in stuffed animals.

It started simply enough, with Sage watching TV in the living room of his family’s house.

“CNN came on and it was saying about all these kids from Ukraine because of all their houses being blown up,” he said.

Sage and his mom Rhonda Goodall then decided to launch “Hugs for the Children of Ukraine.”

Each donated stuffed toy will go to a child impacted by the war.

“They need to feel what the normal kids of the world feel, when they can hug onto something when they feel scared or sad,” Sage said.

The family stored their first collections in the family living room.

Then the YMCA of Northeast Florida got involved. Its branches became donation sites, and each new toy became like a hug from thousands of miles away.

Goodall said she is still overwhelmed by the response.

“We didn’t know it would be this big,” she said. “To walk in here and see this, it’s heartfelt. The thought of a child, as Sage says, hugging one of these and being able to walk around with it and carry it around with them, they are every bit as special as every other person.”

With the response comes a message from Sage to his fellow kids: Every child is special - show kindness.

“Everyone is the same,” Sage said. “They’re just human beings, that God created them. They need to realize, ‘Don’t think about yourself, think about others before you.’”

Sage wants to make a positive difference one “hug” at a time.

Sage and the YMCA said they managed to collect nearly 6,000 stuffed animals to ship to Ukrainian children.

The 11-year-old is not done yet; he’s begun setting new goals and plans to continue collecting.

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