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Applepie ginger cat toy found for Bethpage boy with autism

Richard Tomasco, a director at Applepie Toys, with

Richard Tomasco, a director at Applepie Toys, with the toy ginger cat in his Orinda, California, office. Tomasco will send the toy to Michael Clyne, 10, of Bethpage, this week. Credit: Richard Tomasco

Santa got a little help this year from a London-based company that tracked down a long discontinued toy to help grant a Bethpage boy’s Christmas wish.

Michael Clyne, 10, has autism and limited language abilities, but for the first time last month he was able to tell Santa what he’d like for Christmas.

But Santa’s elves had their work cut out for them: The toy he requested is no longer produced and was nowhere to be found.

For months, Michael had been asking for an “Applepie ginger cat,” a wooden toy that was sold by London-based Applepie Toys years ago. Michael’s mother, Jeanie Shelton-Clyne, had looked for it everywhere, and last week the family posted about their search on Facebook.

As the post spread on social media, hundreds of people contacted Applepie hoping to track down the sandy-colored cat, which went out of production six or seven years ago, according to Kit Lensvelt, an Applepie representative.

“It’s really, really touching,” Lensvelt said. “ ... People were really desperate to get this to Michael.”

Lensvelt said the company couldn’t find the toy at its London headquarters. But on Monday Richard Tomasco, a company director based in Orinda, California, found an unopened ginger cat that had been stashed away about 10 years ago in his office.

The toy kitten will be heading straight to Bethpage and should arrive in the next few days, Lensvelt said.

Shelton-Clyne had first tried purchasing the toy back in August for Michael’s birthday and last month began searching online for a used version of the toy.

“We are blessed to have such wonderful friends, family, community and total strangers across the globe helping to preserve the magic of Christmas,” Shelton-Clyne said Monday.

Though Shelton-Clyne is saving the gift for under the Christmas tree, Lensvelt said the company was still “a little disappointed we couldn’t get it there sooner.”

“But having read through all the emails and learning how important this is to the family, we’re really glad that it’s gonna be a happy ending for this boy.”

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