CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — To some, stuffed animals are just toys, but for Leota Gaines, they are her purpose.
"There's a lot of children out there. Ill, in the hospital, leukemia, heart problems, they need help. And that's what I'm here for. That's why I'm still on this earth. That's why I haven't gone on. The making something for a child to make a child's life a little bit easier." Gaines said.
Leota will be 88 years-old in a few weeks. She has always loved helping children, in fact, she used to be a foster parent.
Something else she has always loved? Sewing. That's why she makes 1,000 stuffed animals a year, for children in need.
She started making the animals 11 years ago after she lost her husband. Leota says helping children during that time was healing for her.
She makes a variety of animals in different colors and patterns, no two the same.
"That's part of the thing that keeps me interested, the fact that it's a challenge trying to figure out, what I'm going to do."
These special animals go to Driscoll Children's Hospital, the Children's Advocacy Center of the Coastal Bend, just to name a few.
Every year she also makes 101 dalmatians for the Flour Bluff Fire Department to hand out during their annual Christmas parades.
Fire Chief Dale Scott with Nueces County ESD #2 has gotten to know Leota over the years.
"It's really awesome. Basically she adopted us. She was really happy with what we're doing and wanted to be a part of it. She has stepped up in a big way and has really helped us a lot." Scott said.
And on Tuesday, Leota will be making a special appearance on the float. She can't wait to hand out her dalmatians and see the smiles on kid's faces.
The parade runs every night for the week of Dec. 8-14. For parade updates and routes visit Nueces County ESD #2 Facebook page.