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  • Jon Busdeker

Stuffed Animal Giveaway: Carrying on a Thanksgiving Day tradition

ORLANDO, FL - For years, Gary Sain gave out stuffed animals at The Salvation Army Thanksgiving Feast in Orlando.

But the tradition stopped when Sain, the former CEO of Visit Orlando, passed away suddenly in 2012.

Five years passed and his daughter Olivia Sain still had 150 stuffed animals just sitting in her closet. Yes, the animals were a reminder of her dad, but they weren't doing any good hidden away in a closet.

In 2017, Olivia decided to "rekindled" the tradition. And so, with 12 days until Thanksgiving, she collected several hundred more stuffed animals and passed them out at The Salvation Army on West Colonial Drive in Orlando.

This year, she plans to give out more than 1,000 stuffed animals - most of which were donated by mothers who wanted to get rid of all the stuffed animals in the house., she said. She calls it "Sain's Stuffed Giving."

Olivia has been collecting the stuffed animal all year.

To a child who may be spending the holidays at a shelter, getting a stuffed animal is something special, Olivia said. It brings a smile to the kids' faces, and it's something you don't see when you simply write a check.

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