14-year-old starts nonprofit to help other kids

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TAMPA, Fla. (IVANHOE NEWSWIRE) Starting a nonprofit can be challenging. But for one 14-year-old, she didn’t let lots of obstacles get in the way.

“I want every child to feel safe,” said Jessica Carscadden, creator of the We Care Bear Project.

This teddy bear tour is Jessica’s idea. She collects them, gives them to firefighters and police officers, who then load them on their trucks and give them to kids they meet who are scared or injured.

Captain Stephen White of the Tampa Fire Rescue said “I think it’s something that is often overlooked because we don’t do it as often as we should or we don’t think about it.”

More than 35 thousand stuffed animals have been handed out nationwide. Jessica has received a lot of attention around the country.

“She has taken what I thought was just an impromptu kind of a desire and really grown it into a project that’s really pretty, pretty broad,” Kathleen Carscadden, Jessica’s mother told Ivanhoe .

White says it works anywhere because there’s a need everywhere.

White continued, “for children that are on the scene and they’ve been traumatized whether it’s been by an accident or their house has been on fire, it’s a very calming influence that they can hold on to and cling to.”

Jessica understands the importance of the bears. She was born with a facial defect, abandoned by her birth parents, then left at an orphanage

“You have nothing to call your own, nothing was yours.” Jessica shared.

This project is all hers. Nothing got in her way, not even doubts from mom.

Kathleen explained, “As a girl you feel you are empowered and don’t let one ‘no’ stop you or get in your way. You have to walk through many no’s and some of them are powerful like your mother.”

“My goal is for every first responder to have a stuffed animal in the back of their car.” Jessica said.

Jessica first started the We Care Bear project with her allowance money. Now, it’s mostly supported through donations. Click here to help out.

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