Give Some Love with a Hug

January 24, 2023

The Park District of Highland Park is partnering with Zac’s Zoo to collect new stuffed animals for children in crisis.

Donate brand new (with store tags) stuffed animals (must be larger than a beanie baby, but smaller than a child). All donations will be delivered to local Fire and Police First Responders, who will give a child in crisis a comforting stuffed animal.

Drop off your donations Wed, Feb 1 – Tue, Feb 28 at one of the following locations:

Deer Creek Racquet Club
701 Deer Creek Pkwy.

Recreation Center of Highland Park
1207 Park Avenue W.

West Ridge Center
636 Ridge Rd.

Zac’s Zoo’s Mission

The mission of Zac’s Zoo is to provide children in turmoil, with a brand new stuffed animal. When children are faced with scary situations, they gravitate to something which provides comfort…typically a stuffed animal. When you are a child, having a stuffed animal is like having a friend or family member you can always rely on, talk to, love, and be loved unconditionally, no matter what.


Zac Cohen was a native of Highland Park, and attended Highland Park schools, including Wayne Thomas Elementary and Northwood Middle School. In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina destroyed many New Orleans homes, at the tender age of 7, Zac wanted to help the smallest victims…the children. From his desire to help, Zac’s Zoo was formed, along with a cuddle-comfort criteria of which Zac insisted each stuffed animal must possess. Through Zac’s efforts over 10,000 stuffed animals were collected and donated to the children impacted by Katrina.

Sadly, Zac was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident, on September 7th, 2018. He was only 20 years old. He lived his life serving others, taking great pleasure in helping the less fortunate. It’s in his spirit that Zac’s Zoo hopes to help restore a sense of calmness, security, and comfort to children facing adversity.

Zac’s Zoo is a 501(c)(3), non-profit foundation.