Thousands of soft toys have been given to Christchurch children

Soft toys distributed

by Mike Isle

Hundreds of soft toys left at the Rolleston Avenue tribute wall and outside Masjid Al Noor in the wake of the mosque shootings have been given to young Muslim children in Christchurch.

The soft toys were among the mass of flowers, messages and tributes that residents and visitors to Christchurch left along the Rolleston Avenue frontage to the Botanic Gardens in the days and weeks following the tragic shootings, which claimed 51 lives.

In an initiative nicknamed Operation Ted, Christchurch City Council and the Canterbury District Health Board worked with Canterbury Linen to have the soft toys sorted and professionally washed so they could then be given to the city’s Muslim children.

Last week the freshly laundered toys were handed out to children at a special celebration at Pioneer Stadium to mark Eid the festival that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.

“These soft toys were given by children and families from across New Zealand and the world as a show of their love and support for all those affected by the tragedy that occurred in our city on March 15,’’ said Claire Phillips, a planning adviser at the council, who has helped coordinate Operation Ted.

“As well as something to cuddle, they are an enduring symbol of the Kiwi welcoming spirit and all that is best about our community.

“We’re delighted that they are now going to new homes where hopefully they will bring some joy and comfort to their new owners,’’ Ms Phillips said.