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Cicero fifth-grader collects teddy bears for the troops

Ava Leahey, 10, of Cicero, collected teddy bears for troops in Afghanistan to help them through the holiday season and as thanks for their service to the country.

Ava Leahey, 10, of Cicero, collected teddy bears for troops in Afghanistan to help them through the holiday season and as thanks for their service to the country. Photo by Sarah Hall.

— “Thanks so much for thinking of us,” Nicolas wrote in an e-mail. “This is definitely a tough time to be away. It helps knowing people haven’t forgotten that we are here.”

In addition to the donated goods, the troops will receive handmade cards crafted by Ava’s fifth grade class at Gillette Road Middle School.

Ava, who said she’d like to make the teddy bear collection an annual event, is hopeful that the recipients of the goods will know they’re appreciated back home.

“They can see our appreciation and it might make them feel happy,” she said. “I just thought this might be a nice Christmas gift.”

Chris and Heather Leahey are proud that their daughter has embraced the true spirit of the Christmas season.

“Christmas is more about giving. We can all reach out to find those people that might need — we can all give to other people, to people who are in difficult circumstances,” Chris said. “It’s a great idea, and it enriches our holiday when you feel that you’re giving something to somebody else. And we don’t even know these people, but it’s nice to know we’re making their holidays a little bit brighter.”

Heather agreed.

“It’s nice that an idea that a 10-year-old had can bring all these other people together to help someone else.”

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