Determined mom reunites East Tennessee strangers with lost ‘stuffie’

The Burch family were checking out parks after moving to town when they found a lost stuffed animal.
Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 8:11 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2020 at 8:12 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Mandy Burch and her family had just moved to East Tennessee when they were checking out parks around town.

Mandy and her two sons, along with her husband strolled past Mayor Bob Leonard Park in Farragut when they saw a jungle gym they just had to stop at.

Packing a lunch the next day, Burch and family were walking to the illustrious jungle gym when out of the corner of her eye, the mother spotted something out of place.

“Facedown in the leaves and I thought oh dear that is not supposed to be there,” said Burch.

Laying on the parking lot concrete was a slumberkin named Biggie.

Burch’s youngest son Maverick has a stuffed animal of his own. The two are inseparable, and after learning how much a small object can mean to a little kid, Burch was determined to find out who the stuffie belonged to.

“Rollie’s gone missing twice," said Burch talking about misplacing Mavericks stuffed animal before. "And we were so fortunate that we were able to get him back in two days, but those two nights of going to sleep without him were like a mom’s worst nightmare. So even though we have a replacement for Rollie, Rollie the backup Rollie wasn’t equally loved, so he knew the difference and I couldn’t pass it off so I just knew his kid was missing him.”

Burch pasted pleas to almost everywhere she could think of, even picking up the phone and calling the company who makes the stuffie.

“I asked if there was a microchip or something, I didn’t know,” said Burch with a little chuckle.

On the other end of all the effort was Amanda Alma, she is the mother of the child with the missing stuffie.

“I had a pit in my stomach,” said Alma.

The stuffie belongs to Alma’s youngest Anderson.

“It took a few days I kept looking, I looked in my car in my trunk and with so many people carrying things in I thought maybe someone took him into grandmas house, and that wasn’t the case, but it took me a few days until I was like he isn’t anywhere,” said Alma.

It was a post to a Slumberkin, the company that makes the stuffed yeti, Facebook page that brought the families together.

“My best friend tagged me in it and was like did you see there was a lost bigfoot in a Knoxville park, and I was like tag me,” said Alma with a smile.

The two connected on Facebook, sharing the story of how the yeti was lost, and how he was found.

“I cried that she would go through that much trouble to find his home, it was amazing,” said Alma remembering how it happened.

Burch’s family washed Biggie, who they name Spaghetti the Yeti, before returning it.

“They have such tender hearts, so when they see someone’s missing something they say ‘we need to do something’,” said Burch.

The families are now connected for life.

Both moms admitting that going to this level to bring a stuffed animal back to who lost it is something they hope anyone would do.

“I would hope that anybody would, it looked just like a stuffed animal but to these kids, it means so much more,” said Burch. “It’s pretty amazing just to show that there are really good people still out there,” added Alma.

Slumberkins, the maker of the stuffed animal, are made to help foster early emotional learning. To learn more click here.

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