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Mom creates weighted stuffed animals for kids with special needs


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    PFAFFTOWN, NC (WXII) — Pfafftown mom Tania Bolton originally learned to sew in her Home Economics class in junior high school.

Now, after 14 years as a preschool teacher, Bolton is using her experience to create weighted plush stuffed animals that are designed for children with special needs, ranging from anxiety to sensory disorder.

Prior to the pandemic, Bolton had sewn many patches and made different clothing pieces for her four kids. She would pick the hobby back up during her summers off.

As COVID-19 pushed her away from her teaching career, Bolton said she has spent a lot more time with her sewing machine.

As school reopening became more uncertain and unemployment put pressure on her finances, crafting toys became a full-time business endeavor, “The Firefly Patch.”

“I wanted to be the light in the dark,” Bolton said.

She said she got the idea from teaching young children. She said that adding a few extra pounds to a plush animal could lift the weight off a child experiencing anxiety.

“Therapists would send weighted vests or blankets, and those were hot,” Bolton said. “Plus, if you’re the only one in the classroom carrying this big blanket, sometimes that stands out a little bit.”

Bolton said she makes custom furry friends through her shop on Etsy. One of her most special orders was from a mom wanting an animal that would reflect her son, who was born with his arm cut off at the elbow. She decided to make him a stuffed horse with its left leg looking just like that boy’s arm, finished with a lucky horseshoe.

“Not everybody is born with everything that everybody else is. so let’s have something that matches you and tells you that you are beautiful no matter what,” Bolton said. “That’s how God made you.”

The stuffed animals can be purchased on Etsy, Amazon, and in a Lewisville shop.

“It is weird to be living your passion,” Bolton said. “Teaching was my passion and still is. But COVID showed me that it’s OK to change. And I’m happy. I’m really happy with my decision.”

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