Students from Pima Junior High School are helping keep the memory and kindness of a departed little boy alive and well through a stuffed animal drive.
The students presented more than 200 stuffed animals to Dylan's toy box at the Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center on Monday.
In life, 6-year-old Dylan Casey Farar's compassion and kindness touched many who knew him. Through the assistance of friends, family and caring community members, his benevolence continues to help others in their time of need through the Dylan Farar memorial toy box.
After Dylan's traumatic accidental death Dec. 4, 2010, the community's outpouring of stuffed animals was so great the Farar family was overwhelmed.
Mark Vining of Vining Funeral Home suggested the family donate the toys to the Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center to give to other children in need.
Shortly thereafter, Mike Pearson of LifeNet and his wife, Katrina Pearson, came up with the idea of a toy box that could carry the animals and be wheeled around the hospital. The toys all carry a personalized message from Dylan that tells a little about him and offers well wishes.
Local craftsman Hal Moore turned the idea into a reality and built the chest in memory of Dylan. Classmates at Ruth Powell Elementary School and Dylan's family put their handprints on the box, which also sports depictions of some of Dylan's favorite toys painted by the Art Department at the Eastern Arizona College. A sealant applied by Kempton's Chevrolet helps to preserve the artwork.
Upon learning of the toy box and its purpose, Pima Junior High School students participating in the Wyman's Teen Outreach Program decided to do a stuffed animal drive for Dylan's toy box to meet their community service requirement. The outreach program is designed to create or enhance youth development efforts and teaches healthy behaviors, life skills and a sense of purpose. One component of the program includes a requirement that students partake in at least 20 hours of community service.
Pima Junior High teacher and outreach program administrator Tawnie Anger said the students prepared posters and fliers asking people to donate and spent two weeks gathering more than 200 stuffed animals for the project.
"They were really enthusiastic about this," Anger said. "After they had Darylin (Dylan's mother) come and talk to them, they were really excited to do it and really wanted to help out. They thought it was a good cause and that it would be a benefit to the community. They were just really excited to do something to help students who would be in the hospital and also to do it in memory of Dylan."
Darylin expressed her gratefulness to the students for their work and help in keeping Dylan's toy box full.
"We're honored because it's special to us," she said. "It's a way to keep our son's memory alive and give back to the community. It's pretty special to us."
"It'll benefit the children here in the hospital," Dylan's father, David Farar, said. "That's the purpose."
The Farars said they hope to continue the program for years to come and appreciate all involved from those who contribute the stuffed animals to those who hand them out to the children in need.