Sixth grader Shelby Shearer, Phoenix Police Assistant Chief Martos, and Mountain View Precinct Commander Disotell were celebrated as this year’s Co-Grand Marshals at Phoenix Christian Preparatory School’s 72nd Homecoming Parade. Shelby is already a veteran community activist, helping to offer something furry and comforting to other children.

Shelby, 12, has been collecting new and gently used stuffed toys for the Phoenix Police Department every February to provide to traumatized youths they encounter while serving the community. She began collecting the stuffed animals when she was 3 years old when she wanted to have a birthday party with her friends from preschool.

Her mother and grandmother suggested that because it was only six weeks after Christmas, when she had received many presents, she ask her friends to bring teddy bears to the party to donate to the area police station instead of gifts. From there, “Shelby and the Bears” was born, with Shelby collecting 25 teddy bears. The next year even more friends helped her and they brought in 250 stuffed toys to donate to the police department.

Over the last eight years, Shelby’s outreach has greatly expanded, with 600 new or gently used stuffed toys given to Phoenix Police Officer Aaron Stevens, who has just retired from serving as Phoenix Neighborhood Community Action Officer.

Shelby’s soft spot for other kids has led to Phoenix police officers visiting the school, where she and other students collect the stuffed toys for officers to pick up. Last spring, the police department brought a K9 officer to talk to students and answer their questions.

Shelby, who also is a Girl Scout, plans to keep collecting the toys until she graduates from Phoenix Christian Preparatory School.