SPANISH FORK — Eight-year-old Jonny Hoagland isn’t one to go looking for the spotlight. But when you have a collection of stuffed animals like he does, it’s hard not to take notice — especially when he’s decided it’s time to say goodbye.
“I have a whole bunch of them,” Jonny said, with more than 350 of the animals behind him.
But his collection is only half of the story, and his idea to give them a new home isn’t the only impressive part.
“Ninety percent of them are from the claw machine,“ Jonny said.
That’s right — the machine you find at your local mall or Denny’s that’s out to get your money. But Jonny has somehow found a way to get more out of this machine. Much, much more.
“You gotta pick it up on the heaviest side,” Jonny said. “That’s how I got him. Practiced and practiced.”
“There were kids that would sit there and watch him and they wouldn’t get anything at all,” said Jonny’s mother, Analyn Hoagland. “And he’d go over and put 50 cents in and go win it and run it up to him and give it to him. And the kids were just so excited about it.”
That giving spirit continued Monday. After years of bringing him joy, Jonny said, “I have too many.”
His decision to let them go came when he and his family were watching KSL and saw something about the Utah Highway Patrol asking for donations to give to Primary Children’s Hospital.
“I want to donate them to the little kids,” Jonny told his mother. “I know that’s what will make them happy and that’s the only way I’ll get rid of them.”
“Trust me we have tried to get rid of these many a times,” Analyn added.
I want to donate them to the little kids. I know that’s what will make them happy and that’s the only way I’ll get rid of them.
During a season of shopping where it’s easy to focus on yourself, Jonny seemed to have grasped the point that the true prize is found in giving.
“I’m really proud of him because this is huge huh? Your teddy bears mean everything to you,” Analyn said.
If you’d like to donate stuffed animals to Primary Children’s Hospital, you can drop them off at one of UHP’s locations.