For many children, their favorite stuffed animal is a treasure they received from Santa Claus.

For many children, their favorite stuffed animal is a treasure they received from Santa Claus.

The Tri-Village Lions Club will offer local youngsters a chance to send their plush pals on a return visit or first-time trip to Santa's workshop in the North Pole.

The activity will be held Dec. 16 and 17 and will benefit the local Lions' effort to raise funds to support Cure JM.

"JM" stands for juvenile myositis, the collective name for a group of rare, life-threatening and incurable autoimmune diseases. Cure JM is an organization conducting research to find a cure for the disease.

On Dec. 16, children or their parents and grandparents can drop off a stuffed animal at the MCL Restaurant & Bakery, 3154 Kingsdale Center in Upper Arlington.

"We'll be sending their stuffed animals on an exciting overnight trip to Santa's workshop," said club member Jane Jarrow. "We'll take plenty of pictures of Santa with the animals, Mrs. Claus serving them milk and cookies and the animals visiting the workshop and seeing all the toys."

The next morning, children can return to MCL to pick up their friends and receive a personalized souvenir photo album of the magical night, Jarrow said.

"The booklet the child will receive will feature a photo of their animal with Santa on the cover," she said.

Cost is $10; all money collected will be donated to Cure JM, Jarrow said.

"Our inspiration for this idea came from the Grandview Heights Public Library," she said. "We stole it from them, to be honest."

The library held a similar event in September during which stuffed animals had an overnight adventure at the library. Children received a story book featuring pictures of their animals participating in story time and other children's activities at the library.

"We thought it was such a cute idea," Jarrow said. "It was also a way for children to learn about the different fun things they can do at the library."

The Lions Club has added an educational aspect to the event, but the learning will be aimed at parents and grandparents, she said.

'"We'll give parents a envelope that will contain information about juvenile myositis, its symptoms and causes, and how they can help," Jarrow said.

In their story books, children will notice a specific design of wrapping paper; a large sheet of that same paper will be included in the envelope for adults, she said.

"They will be able to wrap a present they give to someone in that same paper," Jarrow said. "It will give them a personal memento of their friends' visit to the North Pole."

Stuffed animals can be dropped off between noon and 6 p.m. Dec. 16 at MCL and picked up between 10 a.m. and noon Dec. 17, she said.

No registration is needed, Jarrow said. Payment can be made when animals are dropped off.

The Lions initiated a fundraising effort last year to support Cure JM after Lion Zach Harrison and his wife, Sandi, learned their daughter, Sydney, had been diagnosed with JM, just a week before her 4th birthday.

Sydney began an arduous schedule of weekly IV treatments at Nationwide Children's Hospital designed to keep her immune system suppressed after she was weaned off initial steroid treatments.

"She's doing a lot better," Zach Harrison said. "Sydney's moved into remission and we've been able to reduce the treatments from every week to every two or three weeks to just once a month now."

The Lions set an initial fundraising goal of $5,000; the club has collected more than $6,000 in donations, he said.

"It's been a great response from the community," Harrison said.

The goal now is to raise another $5,000 for Cure JM before June 30, when the Lions' year ends, he said.

Jarrow said anyone with questions about the stuffed-animal activity may email her at lionjjarrow@gmail.com or call 614-571-5681.

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