NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — Five-year-old Jackson Ptacek in Noblesville is just like any other child. He loves to play and have fun with his toys. So, when he came to his parents days before Christmas saying he had something to tell them, his mother, Abbi, said they were surprised with what he had to say.
"He said, 'Mommy I've been thinking about something for a lot of days, and I finally decided to tell you. I want to get stuffed animals and give them to kids that need them and don't have them,'" Abbi said.
When they asked him why, the answer was simple.
"I asked him earlier, too, 'Why do you want to do this?' He said, 'If a kid feels sad, I want them to be able to get their stuffed animal and feel happy,'" Abbi said.
His parents were blown away by his kindness.
"After Christmas, he just kept coming, almost every day, like, 'Hey, I want to get stuffed animals for kids,'" Abbi said.
Seeing he was serious about his mission, Jackson's parents put out a call to action to family and friends on Facebook, asking them to donate unused bears or send donations so they could purchase them.
That's how "Jackson's January of Joy" got started.
"We had an overwhelming response. He's already gotten enough money or had them sent to us. I think he's got 121 bears already," Abbi said.
They're donating the stuffed animals to the local fire department and EMS workers, so they can give them to kids while responding to calls.
They're also donating some to Fueled for School, which was featured in 13News' "Send the Love" campaign. The Noblesville group provides lunches for students in need.
"I just think that it's the time that we are in. Everybody is going through a difficult time. If there is any way you can bring a smile to people's faces or bring a little bit of joy, I think that's the thing to do," Abbi said.
Jackson hopes other kids enjoy the stuffed animals as much as he did collecting them.
"Just a small stuffed animal, hopefully, it brings some joy to these kids and let them know that they are loved, and people really care for them," Abbi said.
Jackson is hoping to collect as many stuffed animals as possible through the month of January. They will deliver them to the local fire department in February. The stuffed animals must be brand new.
On Feb. 14, the Noblesville Fire Department posted an update on its Facebook page, and said Jackson had raised around 500 stuffed animals, which will be distributed to the fire stations and trucks to be made available to comfort children on calls.
Jackson's family has created an Amazon wish list, which is online here.