WAKE COUNTY, N.C. — A Wake County high schooler is doing what she can to make a difference in the lives of children who have been through some tough times.
“A lot of teenagers go through teenage hood thinking there’s not really much I can do. I’m not an adult. I can’t vote. There’s not a whole lot we can do to change society, it feels,” Isabelle Murphy said.
When she’s not navigating high school, Murphy spends a lot of her free time collecting, sorting and washing stuffed animals. It started as a school service project. She found organizations like orphanages, safe houses and first responders that would give them to kids.
“I kind of got really excited about it and it became more than just a school project. It became my baby and I’m really passionate about it now,” Murphy said.
Her family moved to Raleigh when she was little and she lost her favorite stuffed animal in the process.
“I remember how terrifying that moment was for me like I don’t have my comfort object. I’m in a new place and I don’t have something to comfort me and kids live like that for months at a time, years at a time,” Murphy said.
She wanted to give kids, who were going through traumatic experiences, something to hold on to.
“So when they’re scared, it’s easy to hug and hold on to. It’ something tangible they can grasp on because hope is a hard concept to hold on to and to get kids through something when they’re so little,” Murphy said.
After five years, she’s collected almost 10,000 stuffed animals. It’s an act of kindness for people she’ll likely never even meet.
“You don’t have to make a change on a worldwide scale,” Murphy said. “Just look around your house. Look around your neighborhood, your community, your friends, your school. What can you do to make somebody’s life better?”
The Masonic Home for Children at Oxford is one organization that has received some stuffed animal donations from Murphy. Leigh Ann Adcock, the organization’s in-kind gift coordinator, says the donations definitely make a difference and impact the kids staying at the home.
“Sometimes that stuffed animal is something that brings them comfort during a time when they need it like when they’re in their rooms alone and they’re not with their families,” Adcock said.
Murphy will be graduating high school in the spring, so she hopes to pass this project along to a fellow student who can carry it on for years to come.