Newcastle mom wins IKEA’s Stuff the Bug contest

January 31, 2012

By Sean Duncan

The Seattle IKEA yellow Volkswagen Bug is filled with soft toys to promote its annual campaign. Contributed

There is no such thing as a free lunch, but Newcastle resident Angela Weber often attends IKEA’s free Monday morning breakfasts with a group of friends.

That’s how she found out about the Stuff the Bug Contest.

But on one trip in particular, it paid off big.

“I thought it was really fun to see a VW bug stuffed with toys,” she said.

The yellow classic Beetle was stuffed with soft toys to promote IKEA’s Soft Toys for Education campaign.

IKEA held its annual Soft Toys for Education campaign from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24. Since 2003, the IKEA Soft Toy campaign has donated $47.5 million to UNICEF and Save the Children — a contribution that has provided access to education to about 8 million children in nearly 40 countries.

For every colorful soft toy purchased at stores throughout the U.S. during the contest, IKEA donated $1.30, or the equivalent of one Euro, to UNICEF and Save the Children’s global projects designed to improve children’s education.

People were invited to guess the number of soft toys inside the car.

Weber entered only three guesses and one of them was the exact number, 286. Her thought process was that since the workers placing the stuffed animals probably have other duties, the number couldn’t be too high.

“286 is an obscure, low, but high-ish number,” she said.

Weber got to pick among three charities for the toys to go to. One of the options was the Ladies Auxiliary for Post 1 of American Veterans in Tacoma.

She chose the Ladies Auxiliary because it sounded like the most grassroots, organic, local group that hasn’t received a lot of media attention yet.

“I watch a lot of ‘Portlandia,’ and I wanted to keep it local,” she said.

“Portlandia” is a comedy TV series on the IFC channel that purposefully overdramatizes Northwest hipster organic sensibilities.

She said she supports women’s organizations in general.

The Ladies Auxiliary gives blankets and stuffed animals for the patrol cars of Pierce County officers, who often are the first responders to emergencies, so that the soft toys can be available to comfort children just coming out of a stressful situation.

Donna Buck, president of the Ladies Auxiliary for Post 1, said she was excited to have the auxiliary chosen to receive the toys.

“We’re very careful that we have very soft blankets and soft snuggly animals,” Buck said, adding when you visualize a police officer approaching a child who just got out of a fire or domestic-violence situation, having a blanket and toy can make a big difference.

“It’s just something really comforting to have for a minute,” Weber said.

Weber enjoys being the stay-at-home mother of her 5-year-old daughter, and she has lived in Newcastle, which is in the Issaquah School District, since 2010. Before that, she moved to Renton in 2009 from Iowa.

“Most of my time is spent between volunteer work for my local church and for my daughter’s school,” she said.

Weber volunteers at St. Stephen the Martyr, a Roman Catholic Church in Renton, where she has been involved with starting new ministries for stay-at-home moms. She has also helped with decorating committees.

“I’m a social worker by degree, so I have a mentality of knowing what service looks like on a governmental level and on an informal level,” she said.

She received a $100 IKEA gift card for her correct guess.

“More than likely I will spend it on myself with bookshelves, but that hasn’t been decided yet,” she said.

Weber said bookshelves would be useful. Since having a child, she’s accumulated a lot of baby and toddler items that she feels she can’t get rid of because of their sentimental value.

Buck said the auxiliary’s efforts are growing, and “if other organizations in other cities would be interested in doing this for other police, we’d be more than happy to fill them in, help them out and show them how.”

Learn more about the project by calling 253-224-7837.

Sean Duncan is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory. Comment at

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One Response to “Newcastle mom wins IKEA’s Stuff the Bug contest”

  1. stephen on February 1st, 2012 1:39 am

    Holey moley that is some prize, I am drooling looking at it. The soft toy campaign at Ikea for UNICEF has been a great success and may it last.

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