Agawam woman raises reward for stuffed animal with father’s ashes to $350

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Mary Mellinger Kirk is increasing the reward for a stuffed animal containing a vial of paternal ashes to $350 through donations, she said Monday.

Mellinger Kirk originally posted on Facebook on March 11 that she was offering a $50 reward for the stuffed orange tabby cat that accidentally happened to be in a donation box she gave to Savers in West Springfield.

More than 4,000 people have shared Mellinger Kirk’s post about the missing stuffed animal.

“It’s very humbling to have so many people care,” Mellinger Kirk said, “so many people have gone personally to help me find this.”

Five people have donated or will donate to help Mellinger Kirk pay for the $350 reward, she said.

People told her they were contacting sellers on eBay to see if they had bought the stuffed animal, which her son recently remembered had a voice box in his arm that mews three times.

“I went into the store several times and management told me there were people (in there) all day asking about the chat,” Mellinger Kirk said.

The stuffed animal was a gift his father gave his son when he was a baby, then after his father died, they put a vial of his ashes in the stuffed animal.

“My son Paul took care of my dad the last year of my dad’s life,” she wrote in her post announcing the award, “He was named after my dad and we even gave him same last name.”

Mellinger Kirk believes the stuffed animal was sold between March 7 and March 13 since Savers employees told him they had searched the entire warehouse and it was no longer there.

“I’m sure it exists,” she said, “I just think whoever has it just doesn’t know someone’s looking for it.”

The fact that 4,000 people shared her post “amazes me,” she says, because she doesn’t even know 4,000 people.

“A little girl gave me her stuffed Build-a-Bear because she didn’t want me to be sad,” Mellinger Kirk said.

The $350 reward is only offered if she can verify it’s the right cat, Mellinger Kirk wrote on the post, noting that each cat has a serial number inside.

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