As parents, we often go to great lengths to preserve our children’s paintings and drawings, but most of the time those pieces of art end up accumulating and filling up office file boxes. But Ikea, the Swedish company known for its flat-packed furniture, is turning children’s creations into stuffed animals and puppets that are sold in stores.
The toys, in Ikea’s new Sagoskatt toy line, is part of of the company’s long-running Soft Toys for Education program. Last year, Ikea asked kids to submit toy designs. Ten out of thousands of entries were chosen, and are now available for sale at Ikea stores. But the toys, while fun, serve a bigger purpose: As one of its charitable endeavors, according to the Ikea Foundation, 1 euro ($1.11) for every soft toy sold in participating stores during November and December is donated to Save the Children, UNICEF, and children’s educational projects in underprivileged areas of Asia, Africa, and Europe. Since 2003, the Ikea Foundation has raised nearly 77 million euros, with 10.1 million euros in 2014 alone.
According to Quartz, the chosen designs are spot on and look identical to the artwork selected. Bodil Fritjofsson, Ikea product developer, says, “We look at the sample and we look at the drawing to see if they’re matching … If the eyes are different, or there’s an extra arm, it should be on the soft toy as well.”
There are other ways to preserve your child’s artwork, including those who are brave and dedicated enough to tattoo them onto their bodies. Apps like Artkive and Budsies turn your child’s art into books and stuffed animals. Ikea’s Soft Toys for Education, however, is the only charitable option that aims to do a lot of good. While Ikea hasn’t announced plans to do the program again for next year, parents may want to hang on to their kids’ artwork, just in case. Of course, the next conundrum becomes, what to do with all those stuffed animals you end up buying.