By TERRY GROOVER
“I am very proud of her,” Cassy Bray said of her daughter, Ruby Stephens.
The Yukon girl recently turned 10, and to celebrate, asked those attending her birthday party at the Sunset Park splash pad to forego presents. Instead, she asked that everyone bring stuffed animals that could be donated to the Yukon Police Department.
“I was a little shocked,” Bray said of her daughter’s request.
Initially, Ruby told her mother that she didn’t want to have a birthday party because she had everything she needed.
In fact, Bray said her daughter still has presents she had received the year before that haven’t been used.
“She was turning 10, and all she wanted was for a friend to spend the night,” Bray said.
When the mother began to question why her daughter didn’t want a party, she learned it was all about the presents. There was nothing she wanted, and even when no presents are requested, people feel an obligation to bring something, Bray said.
The idea of donating stuffed animals to the police department was born.
“It’s a big year, and we needed to find a way to celebrate,” Bray said.
She gave her daughter a couple of options that included helping others.
The family had donated a couple of bags of stuffed animals to the police department a few months earlier. They also had worked a few years ago to help provide Christmas for several families through their softball team.
“That’s when she was introduced to giving back,” she said.
The team worked with the Wonderfully Made Foundation to provide Christmas for 30 families.
“She helped us through the process and said ‘I hope I can do something like this someday,’” her mom said.
“This was all about her doing something like that. It was her birthday that did this. She is a very selfless little girl and is always thinking about others,” Bray said.
Maj. Matt Fairchild, a spokesperson for the Yukon Police Department, said the family delivered several bags of stuffed animals along with a large box of animals.
They will be handed out to police officers, who will provide them to children that they come into contact with during the course of their jobs.
“We respond to a lot of calls where the kids are not used to the police. This is a way to show that we are the good guys,” Fairchild said. “This is what they (stuffed animals) are great for.”
Fairchild said the donation was appreciated.
“There are a lot of generous people in Yukon who are willing to donate to us,” he said.
While Ruby’s friends gave many of the toys, she also received a nice donation of stuffed animals from local businesses Tuesday Mornings and Animal Crackers.
As a result of her efforts, the department honored Ruby with a letter of recognition that was signed by Yukon Police Chief John Corn and Deputy Chief Mike Roach.
Ruby will be a fourth-grader at Lakeview Elementary when the school year begins.