STONEHAM — Chief Matthew Grafton is pleased to share that a local boy has donated approximately 40 plush dog toys intended to be distributed by firefighters to children who’ve suffered from trauma.
Trouble the Dog is a plush toy that was designed in 2006 by Sheila Duncan, of Massachusetts, after her own family and a young niece suffered the loss of several family members and a family dog all within a short time. Duncan designed the toy in an effort to help comfort and inspire children who have experienced hardship. In the years since, as Trouble’s popularity grew, Duncan has also collaborated to create a book series about Trouble.
The toys were donated to the Stoneham Fire Department by 9-year-old Darius Noonan, of Wakefield, who has turned his realization that he wanted to help other children into a family effort that has spanned two years and benefitted multiple communities.
Darius is the adopted son of Kevin and Maria Noonan, and he has shared his own experiences of dealing with trauma himself early in life while he was in foster care. During that time, someone gave him a plush Trouble the Dog toy.
“That was like his security blanket,” Kevin Noonan said. “Then one day we were just sitting around and he said ‘Mom and Dad, I want to be able to give other kids — if they’re having a bad day — one of these dogs.”
The Noonans, who had previously met Duncan, soon set off on what has become a roughly two-year effort to raise money to buy the plush toys and distribute them around the region. The effort all started with a post on Facebook, but quickly exploded as the family was surprised by the level of support they received.
The family has since raised over $10,000 to buy and distribute the toys, delivering them to offices of the Department of Children and Families, police, and fire departments, among others.
Stoneham Firefighters thanked Darius by giving him a ride through town in a fire truck and even let him honk the horn.
“I want to thank Darius for his generous donation, which our firefighters will put to good use helping kids in need,” Chief Grafton said. “I encourage anyone who would like to support Darius’ efforts to do so, so that even more children will be helped by this meaningful work.”
The Stoneham Fire Department will now provide the dogs to children who have experienced trauma via car accidents or other incidents to help comfort them.
To learn more about Trouble the Dog, visit: https://troublethedog.com/. To donate to Noonan’s efforts, you can do so via Venmo at @dsnoonan12.