Rogers City first-grader helping spread joy, comfort

ROGERS CITY — Eighty-six stuffed animals have found new homes, thanks to a donation by a Rogers City youth.

Their first home was with Blake Kuznicki, 6, a first-grader at Rogers City Elementary School. They will now be used to comfort children who are patients at Shriners Hospitals.

Kuznicki amassed a large collection of stuffed animals since he was born.

“He was always into stuffed animals. For Christmas, birthdays he would ask for stuffed animals, ever since he was little. He got one for his first Christmas, it was a dog and he got it from his Nana. He loved that dog, he still has that one,” Blake’s mom, Danielle, said.

In the last couple months Kuznicki and her husband Justin sold their house and plan to downsize.

“We were going through his stuffed animals and asked how he wanted to get rid of them. His first response ‘I don’t want to get rid of them.’ I asked ‘What if we give them to kids who haven’t had a stuffed animal; make them smile and happy,'” she said.

Because of his laid back and caring nature he agreed to donate them, she said.

Danielle said they knew someone who was a Shriner and approached them for a donation. Roger City Shriner Ken Wailer helped the Kuznickis figure what to do.

“The Shriners, we help sick children. We have 21 hospitals, three are burn hospitals. There is no cost to parent or family. We do all the transportation, it’s all paid for. As far as donations we cannot take the stuffed animals to the hospital because they are used. What we plan on doing with these is give them to the child when we transport them. Something to have in a van,” Wailer said.

This is done to ease the childrens’ minds and feel comforted. Wailer said it’s good to see young children encouraged to give back.

“My wife and I do a lot of volunteering for different volunteer groups. You meet good people and you’re helping the community. That’s why younger kids should get into volunteering,” he said.

Danielle said she thinks it’s important to teach these values as kids grow.

“They’re seeing some kids have more than other kids. They can learn ways to make them feel good. They can make another child happy. That’s always a blessing in life no matter if it’s your child or another kid,” she said.

Jordan Spence can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687.