Good Stuff: Three Girls Make a Big Difference

* How many stuffed animals can you, ahem, stuff into a spare room?

The answer -- 2,300 -- comes from Arlington's Gali Little and Katie Bauman, both 11, and Katie's 9-year-old sister, Sarah. They should know. They just did it.

The girls weren't trying to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records. They wanted to help children who lost so much during hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

"My mom and I were watching the news and I saw a lot of children, and none of them had any possessions. . . . I thought they might like a stuffed animal to hold onto and to tell secrets to," Gali said.

She shared her idea with Katie and Sarah, who are friends as well as neighbors, and the project was under way. The girls got their schools (H-B Woodlawn, Swanson Middle and McKinley Elementary) involved as drop-off sites. They also collected toys in their neighborhood and at Gali's synagogue.

The girls were very surprised with their success. "I thought we would get about 100" toys, Sarah said.

The three-week collection drive is over, and Victory Van Corp. is shipping the animals to Memphis, Tennessee. From there, the charity group Bear Hugs With Love will deliver the toys to children still in shelters in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

How do the girls feel about kids having new special friends to cuddle because of their actions? "Proud," the three said in unison.

This story has a happy ending in more than one way. Not only will thousands of kids be getting new stuffed animals, but Gali's mom now has her spare room back.

From left, Katie Bauman, Gali Little and Sarah Bauman collected 2,300 stuffed animals.