Adopted girl comforts kids in emergencies

Updated: 2015-01-02 04:53

By LIAN ZI in San Francisco(China Daily USA)

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A 12-year-old girl who was abandoned at birth in China and later adopted by a US family is now working hard to help other kids in tough situations.

Jessica Carscadden of San Diego delivered 70 gift bags filled with stuffed animals to the San Francisco Fire Department (SFFD) and Police Department (SFPD) this week just before the New Year's holiday. She hopes the firefighters and cops will give the toys to kids who have been struck with tragedies.

It is only part the "We Care Bears Project", a non-profit launched by Jessica when she was just 9 years old.

"I was cleaning my room and I saw this bag of stuffed animals and my mom wanted me to either throw it away or give it to somebody and I wanted to give it to the fire department across the street," she said.

She appreciates the firefighters and police who keep communities safe and hopes these bears help make their jobs a little easier when they come in contact with young people, she wrote on her Facebook page.

San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes White said that SFFD was honored to receive the donation. "It just adds a sense of calm and a sense of security in sort of an uncertain situation," the chief told KCBS.

SFFD is only the latest stop of Jessica and her bear drive. So far, the project has donated about 130,000 stuffed animals to more than 20 police and fire departments.

"Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow," Jessica wrote on her organization's blog. "My vision for tomorrow is that every police and fire vehicle in the country has a bag of We Care Bears. It's a big task but together we can make it happen."

Besides the stuffed animals drive, Jessica received a $10,000 Make a Different Day grant, which she donated to Love Without Boundaries to provide cleft lip and palate surgeries for 25 orphaned children.

According to Kathleen Carscadden, Jessica's adoptive mother, her daughter was abandoned by her birth parents because of a severe cleft lip and palate. "She's had seven major surgeries so I think, better than anyone, she understands what kind of comfort a stuffed animal or Teddy bear brings," she said, noting that Jessica already had a loving and nurturing spirit when she was adopted from the orphanage.

Seven years ago, "we were looking to expand our family and deciding a way that could be done", Kathleen recalled on NBC's Today show. They learned about international adoption and special needs children in China who needed homes.

"We adopted Jessica a few days after her fifth birthday in 2007. She went to the adoption office, holding our hands and was smiling," Kathleen wrote.

"People often ask Jessica if she feels grateful or lucky to be adopted. But the truth of the matter is that it's our family that is grateful and blessed to be able to call this beautiful girl ours," she added.