A true Toy Story

  • Article by: PAUL LEVY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 14, 2011 - 11:04 PM

A Coon Rapids 10-year-old says that even her beloved Stacie the giraffe has a price tag -- all to buy school supplies for other kids.

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Cassie Thomas held Stacie the giraffe. Cassie's friend and helper (left) Natalie Ford looked on.

Photo: Bruce Bisping, ALL

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For 10-year-old Cassie Thomas, it was the ultimate sacrifice: She was selling a cherished toy to buy school supplies for needy kids.

"I have this old friend, well, it's my oldest friend, a little giraffe named Stacie, that I'm going to sell," Cassie said Thursday from a garage crowded with tables and racks holding clothing, toys and memories.

"See, if I was a grandma, I'd buy Stacie and clothes and games and shoes and a bike and lots of things for my grandchildren. Because it will help people."

Other kids operate lemonade stands. Cassie is staging a weekend garage sale at her home in Coon Rapids, hoping to raise enough money to buy and donate 10 to 15 bags of school supplies to be distributed by People Serving People.

Nothing -- certainly not Thursday's rain -- could dampen Cassie's spirits or determination.

Told that she sounded like a pretty good saleswoman, Cassie replied, "I'm awesome."

And modest. One patron, who asked to remain anonymous, bought a couple of items, returned 20 minutes later to the house on the 1500 block of 120th Av. NW and donated $100. Marilyn Drong, 60, of Coon Rapids, bought nail polish and told Cassie to keep the change.

Virginia Blue, 75, of Anoka, bought two dolls and told Cassie, "That's a very good cause because there's lots of needy people out there."

Cassie will be a fifth-grader at the DaVinci Academy of Arts and Sciences in Blaine, where her mother, Eleanor Thomas, started a "kids' care club." In April, a group of DaVinci Academy students went with Thomas to Minneapolis to feed dinner to the homeless, she said.

Cassie says she is thrilled to give back. She says she doesn't know much about her own background other than she is from Chicago and was 2 and in a foster home in Minneapolis when Eleanor and Carl Thomas transformed her life.

The Thomases were empty nesters eager to adopt a child. Eleanor has a 31-year-old son, and "I always wanted a daughter."

This weekend is Cassie's time, with the sale continuing Friday and Saturday.

"It makes me real sad that there are kids who don't have homes or games," Cassie said as her friend, Natalie Ford, 10, helped move items out of the garage and into the driveway. "They should at least have stuff for school."

She stared at the table of stuffed animals -- the white bear that moves its arms and legs, the pink cat, the leopard. And she gazed at Stacie -- selling for 25 cents. It resembled a scene straight out of the "Toy Story" movies -- like Andy parting with Woody, but without the tears.

"I'll be OK," Cassie said. "I hope nobody buys Stacie, and they'd better not give her a new name.

"I mean, I want to keep her," Cassie said. "But what I really want is an iPad."

Paul Levy • 612-673-4419

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