How to help
Anyone who would like to donate can bring a new stuffed animal with the tags still on it to the Red Bank High School front office through Feb. 15.
The Red Bank High School student council is hosting a Valentine's Day stuffed animal drive in honor of the Sandy Hook shooting.
They are calling the drive "26 Hugs" -- one hug for each of the Sandy Hook victims.
"We wanted to do something together as Red Bank, as a community and as a school," said senior Lynn Tran.
The students have been working hard to get the program started, sometimes coming in as early as 6:30 a.m. to prepare.
"I'm really excited about their program," said Deb Weiss, the school's student council sponsor. "I'm really excited because it's their program. It's something they've decided to do. They're pushing it."
The toys will be donated to local first-responders to give to children in emergency situations.
Keyanna Tatum, a senior, recalls a situation in which a stuffed animal helped to comfort her.
"When I was in kindergarten, I broke my femur and got a bear like that." She said the toy made a big difference during an otherwise scary time.
The students hope to make sure other children can be comforted in the same way.
"We're showing people that we do actually care about our community," said Tatum. "We care about things that are happening in the world, and we do have bright students here who are willing to make a difference."
Weiss said she'd seen a number of students participating.
"It really is touching all of our population here, and that's what we want," Weiss said. "We want all of our kids to feel like they're a part of something bigger than themselves."
The student council is guarding the furry hoard in its office until it can be handed over to emergency services. The fuzzy likenesses of monkeys, bears and dogs are piled in bins and buckets around the room.
So far, they've collected about 50 toys and hope to get many more. The drive will continue through Feb. 15.
Lindsay Burkholder is originally from Winston-Salem, N.C. She graduated from Covenant College in May 2012 with a bachelor's degree in English. While at Covenant she spent time writing for and editing the news section of the school newspaper, The Bagpipe. Burkholder also attended the World Journalism Institute in New York City in 2011.