Local 10-year-old girl gives back: Her idea is to stock emergency vehicles with stuffed animals

Stuffed toys to comfort kids in crisis situations

SAN DIEGO - A local 10-year-old girl who struggled to survive after she was abandoned by her parents at birth is giving back to San Diego children in a big way with the help of police officers and firefighters.

Jessica Carscadden has dedicated her life to helping kids in need.

On Saturday, she filled bags with donated stuffed animals that will go to children who are homeless, poor or experiencing a crisis, which is something she knows a lot about.

At birth, Jessica's parents abandoned her because of a facial defect. She spent the first few months of her life in a "dying room" at a Chinese orphanage where babies are placed without care to die.

Jessica lived in an orphanage until the age of 5. During that time, she had not one thing she could call her own.

One day in 2012, while cleaning her room, she decided to donate her stuffed animals to local fire departments to keep in their trucks for kids they come across on calls who may be scared or hurt. From that gesture came the "We Care Bears" effort.

"It gives them a sense of security that they've got something all their own in a time of crisis," said San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne. "It all comes from Jessica. This is a wonderful young lady who see no limits on what she can do."

Because of her efforts, other kids her age have come out to help give back.

"I really wanted to come because I wanted to help the community be more positive in helping people," said volunteer Antonio Rojas.

Fourth grader Leo Liang says he volunteers because of what a stuffed animal would mean to a boy his age who may have nothing.

"He would be more comfortable so at night he can just look at it and then fall asleep more quicker and not so like scared and not have nightmares," said Leo.

To date, Jessica has been able to put bags of stuffed animals in more than 400 local emergency response vehicles, including every fire truck and ambulance in San Diego, Poway, Rancho Santa Fe, Orange County, and Beverly Hills.

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