Big Animals

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Some of our Volunteers after an Event

Come play with us. You can make a difference in the life of a child. Read what our volunteers Say about their experiences.

Speaking From the Heart

For me there is no greater gift then the love of a child. These past 3 years as a Big Animal have been the most rewarding times of my life to know that we could make a difference in a child's life and help them experience so much love and; joy in their world of heartache and pain. To see their eyes sparkle, faces smiling, and the joy and enthusiasm in them just knowing we're there and will be back again is the greatest gift anyone can receive. We've stretched and grown so much in our lives because of it and; have created purposes in other peoples lives allowing them to be a part of us. I can only relate to how I feel when I hold my 2 1/2 yr old Granddaughter and squeeze her so tight feeling the depth of the love I have for her so deep in my heart it makes me cry. I get so overwelmed never dreaming I could love somebody so deeply and so much and I'm so grateful that she'll never know any other life but the life of total support and love. That's what we bring to all the homeless, abused and sick children we touch and I thank God everyday that he's given us the support, love and strength enabling us to do so. This is submitted to you with lots of love and pride for who we are.

Gail Palermo

The Beauty of a Big Animals Event is the Simplicity

The first time I volunteered to be a Big Animal I had some apprehension. I expected to have to perform and be clever to entertain these children. They were living in a homeless shelter in downtown San Diego. And I didn't know much about how a large orange bear with an affinity for honey was supposed to act. But to my amazement, once I put on the big bear suit and stepped out into the children's courtyard I became a superstar. Kids poured out of the dorms to get their pictures taken, get a big hug, or high-five the giant orange bear. Smiles were contagious and even the parents and workers got in on the action. With all the good energy, love, and fun we had the time just flew by. After our gig was over I changed out of the costume and returned to the courtyard in my regular clothes. All the same kids where there, all the same parents and workers. But I was totally anonymous. Nobody knew me. And I still didn't know anything about how a giant orange bear was "supposed" to act. What I learned was that the beauty of a Big Animals event is the simplicity. You don't need to "know" anything. You just show up and the kids make it happen


An Event For "developmentally challenged" adults/children

It was a bit unusual for us, since we usually focus entirely on children. One of our members, Dave Navarrski, organized it as part of a leadership course he is taking. We were happy to help out. Following is a comment from one of the volunteers who attended the event."

Regarding our event at the center for "developmentally challenged". At first, I was nervous about going, and not really knowing what to expect. The caregivers at the home were so inspiring. They were so Good to the patients and truly cared about them. It was wonderful to see how caring and loving the parents were. I was over my apprehension in 5 mins.

The staff at our event were so appreciative of us being there. They said no one comes for the children because they're afraid. They had
music, they provided a BBQ and all the fixings, plus cakes. They
were great and so grateful. Some of the parents were there to pick up their kids and adult family members to take home for the week-end and were having such a good time they stayed for the party. They really appreciated the pictures Deborah and MaryEllen took of their kids with the animals.

I thought the face painters (Robin and Shirley) were excellent with the patients. The kids were treated like everyone else. I would go back in a moment's notice. I'm so glad Dave picked this place as his community project. I learned a lot.

Phyllis Ashman

How Big Animals for Little Kids Impacted the Life of a Child

My son received an unexpected visit from the Big Animals for Little Kids while he was in the ICU recovering from brain surgery. Frank Fernicola and the "animals" were doing an event near Children's Hospital when they learned that Adam was in the hospital and decided to stop by.

I was at my son's bedside when I looked up to see a large white rabbit, a big brown dog, a magician and a face painter heading straight for us. I whispered to my son, "Look who's come to see you." Tears rolled down my face as Adam's face lit up like the fourth of July as these larger than life animals circled his bed. It was in that moment, I knew the surgery was a success and it was also in that moment that we were all about to learn just how much a random act of kindness disguised as a rabbit, dog, magician and face painter would have in the life a child.

Across from Adam's room, there was a room that had been transformed to resemble a little girls' bedroom. The hospital curtains replaced with tie-died ones, the bedspread and sheets were bright pink and on the glass walls were posters of princesses. Lying in the bed was a fragile little girl with a Hello Kitty bandana wrapped around her head. Her mother was sitting next to her and they were both fixated on what was happening across the hall. There was laughter coming from our room, happiness had taken over and Adam was having his face painted. I was so overwhelmed with relief and joy; I stepped out of the room for a second. That mom from across the way jumped from her daughters' side and headed towards me.

She asked who was in the room and I shared they were my friends - the Big Animals for Little Kids. Her eyes welled and her voice crackled as she began to tell me that her daughter has been at Children's quite awhile, in the ICU for several weeks. She went to tell me that when her daughter saw those "animals" walking down the hall and into my son's room, she smiled. This was the first time her daughter had smiled in a very long time. "Do you think they would come see my daughter?" she tearfully asked me. Without hesitation I replied "of course they would." This mom was overwhelmed with grief, her daughter was dying of cancer and all she knew was those 'animals' in my sons' room were making her daughter smile.

I stood in the doorway of Adam's room as the rabbit and the dog made their way around the nurses' station and through the doorway to this precious little girl. I could see her face glowing with excitement. The killer of this child had fled, there was no cancer, and there was no death. There was simply joy and laughter. As pure as freshly fallen snow, love and life consumed that room. I don't know how long they stayed; I just stood in the doorway of Adam's room full of gratitude for the moments of escape the Big Animals for Little Kids had just brought us all.

The curtains of that little girl's room were closed two days later; she had passed away.

Kelley Carpenter

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Big Animals for Little Kids | 4629 Cass Street #342 | San Diego, California 92109 | (619) 723-3142
A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. EIN #26-3490647