Armed with socks, yarn, beads and felt, Braulio Chavez had the right stuff to make cotton and polyester cats he likes to call “plushies.”
They’re getting some attention — and doing some good.
The Santa Fe middle school student recently has been distributing his creations to people who make a monetary donation to The Food Depot, a nonprofit food bank that serves Northern New Mexico.
Chavez, who said he attends Ortiz Middle School this school year and is moving to Santa Fe School for the Arts & Sciences for seventh grade, said he already has distributed close to 30 of his plushies, which take about 20 minutes apiece to make.
Originally, he intended to make the toys as a fundraiser for the Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society, but decided to switch causes in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“After I read there were people who couldn’t afford food during these times, I decided to change my focus to ways to make people donate to The Food Depot,” Chavez said. “When I heard that the first two people had already donated, I was overjoyed to hear that somebody would be getting a meal.”
Chavez said he first tried to buy the supplies he needed at Michaels. But when the national chain craft store was closed due to the pandemic, he turned to Dollar Tree for the materials.
“I had to be a little resourceful,” he said.
To obtain one of Chavez’s homemade stuffed animals, people are asked to make a donation to The Food Depot and then email Rayna Dineen, the director of literacy-focused nonprofit Reading Quest where Chavez volunteers, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dineen helps arrange the pickups.